PUEBLO — Lauren Manwiller faced a bit of a trouble in the second set of the Class 4A girls tennis No. 1 Singles championship.
She had dropped the first game of both sets to Loveland’s Beilynn Geiss and Manwiller was down 15-break in the 10th game of the second set. She held a 5-4 lead and with the temperature rising at Pueblo City Park, playing a third set was something she wasn’t interested in doing.
So she rallied and to get the 6-2, 6-4 to give the Mustangs a No. 1 Singles title. That win also pushed them out of reach of Cheyenne Mountain to claim the team championship. Manwiller knew that while she was playing for herself in her position, she also had team implications riding on the result.
“That’s what I love about high school tennis,” she said. “I love it more than tournaments. I’m on a team where they support me and I support them.”
She needed the support through the duration of her match. Geiss got on the board early, taking the first game in each set trying to establish momentum early. But Manwiller was prepared for the battle ahead of her.
She didn’t shy away from the challenge of falling into an early hole, but rather she embraced it and used as fuel to battle back.
“I knew she would hold her serve so I just stayed focused,” Manwiller said. “I just played my game and held my serve for most of the time. I knew if I could hold my serve then I would likely win.”
Prior to the championship she faced her toughest challenge in Niwot’s Alys Pop. The Cougars sophomore put up quite a fight in the semis but after Manwiller got the first set 7-5, she rolled to a 6-1 win to close out the match.
Although the No. 1 Singles match was all that was needed for the Mustangs to win the team title, the overall team went on a gold medal hunt on Saturday. Tierney Scanlan and Izzy Desjardins won the No. 2 Doubles title while Madeline Crites and Aubryanne Meugers rolled to a No. 3 Doubles crown.
They weren’t reliant on just one position, the Mustangs wanted to put together an all-around great team performance to finish with 45 points.
“It was a whole team effort,” Mullen coach Jera Sturgell said. "It was obviously a tough season with the restrictions and everything. We came in blind and coming into state we had to play our best because the best is here."
The team championship is the first for the Mustangs since 2006.
The biggest drama of the day came in the race for team runner-up as Niwot had a chance to overtake Cheyenne Mountain, but Palmer Ridge’s Tessa Rothwell beat Niwot’s Anna Sallee in No. 2 Singles to dash the Cougars’ hopes of a runner-up finish.
Cheyenne Mountain held on to win second as a team despite not winning a single state championship at the tournament.
Kent Denver left Southern Colorado with hardware of their own as the Sun Devils were given the Vicky Matarazzo Sportsmanship Award.