COLORADO SPRINGS – A state championship final day is intense by nature.
D’Evelyn and Colorado Academy sought to make it even more nerve wracking on Day 2 of the Class 3A girls tennis state championships as the two met in four of the day’s seven finals after being tied at 21 apiece following the tournament's first day.
The Jaguars made their mark for the second time in school history, taking advantage of the chance to separate four of the five bouts. Their team score of 59 edged out Colorado Academy’s 44.
“We had a long talk (as a team) after quarantine was over,” D'Evelyn coach Woody Oliver said. "We said that we can either be bummed and be disappointed about the fact that COVID-19 ruined our 2020 season or we could just get right back at it.
"I think the girls took that to heart and made them that much more hungry."
Last year, when COVID-19 “won state,” the leaders of the team expected it to be their year. This year, the team’s lone senior — Kyrianna Kryzstek — was in just her first year on varsity.
The pressure of having to win was placed on the shoulders of the team’s only player who won’t return next year. She and her partner, junior Anna Day, came through with the No. 1 doubles title.
“We came in today knowing we were going to play our heart out, no matter what happened,” Kryzstek said. "We were all really confident going into today. Of course there were nerves, but they weren't bad."
Part of the confidence came from the team's head-to-head, regular season win against the Mustangs last month.
The other part came from the team's ability to relax. Even after the matches concluded and the title was theirs, every member of the Jaguars threw on a pair of swim goggles.
The tradition stems from the team's joke about being a "real team" in water polo. They've even made an Instagram for the non-existent program.
All of the nuances D'Evelyn took with them to state kept them calm and collected. What's more, the team will return everyone except Kryzstek next year -- a positive sign for their chances of a repeat.
"We learned a lot from the past two years," Oliver said. "The hope moving forward is to get right back after it this summer. The fact that we bring back pretty much the whole team is a big advantage."
On the day, Aspen's co-op squad was also named the tournament's sportsmanship award winner.