PUEBLO — It wouldn’t be a true state tennis tournament at Pueblo City Park if it wasn’t setup for a thrilling final day. That will be the case once again as Cheyenne Mountain, Mullen and Niwot will battle it out for the state title as each school has at least four of seven positions into Saturday’s Class 4A girls tennis semifinals. Mullen leads the team race with 16 points while Cheyenne Mountain has 15.
Cheyenne Mountain fell in No. 2 Singles as Windsor’s Schrader beat Brooke Ballenger and the No. 2 Doubles team of Emma Delich and Katie Delich lost to Mullen’s Tierney Scanlan and Izzy Desjardins in what was maybe the pivotal match of the day. Marin Smith fell in the first round of the No. 3 Singles bracket for Mullen and Brooklyn Hanley and Parker Durand lost to Grand Junction’s Natalie Hanks and Kylie Hanks.
Each team will rest up and do what they need to be ready for Saturday’s semifinals.
“We’re having team dinner and pool night,” Mullen’s Lauren Manwiller said. “We’re getting to bed early but our whole team is going to be here tomorrow to support everyone and we’re all going to be watching each other’s matches and cheering each other on.”
The No. 1 Singles bracket is proving to be a key race for the team title. Manwiller dropped just five total games in two rounds to advance to the semifinals and Cheyenne Mountain freshman Maya Michalski looked strong herself as she rolled into the semis with wins over Longmont’s Lauren Pavot and Grand Junction’s Emma Aubert.
For a freshman playing in the top position, Michalski showed no signs of showing any nerves on a stage where her team has a tendency to contend for a championship every year.
“I was worried for a few matches,” she said. “But I just powered through.”
Both teams have their own pockets of inexperience as Michalski is in just her freshman year at the school and Mullen only has four players on the roster with previous varsity experience. Part of it is because of youth and part is because last year’s state tournament wasn’t contested because of COVID-19.
“It helps because No. 1 has the most points,” Michalski said. “The fact that I’m still in it and doing well makes me happy for the team.”
There are five teams bunched close to the top with Kent Denver, Niwot and Palmer Ridge all within five points of the lead and the state tournament itself is a representation of how much parity there is across the classification.
“This is exciting and I’m pretty darn sure this is how it was going to be,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Dave Adams said. “From looking at the participants and the MaxPreps scores, I thought there were five or six teams that could win it. It’s really close.
Semifinals begin at Pueblo City Park at 9 a.m. on Saturday with championships tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m.