BOULDER-- A week and a half ago the Fairview girls tennis team tied with Cheyenne Mountain for first-place at the latter's invitational tournament. Facing each other 10 days later at the Knights' home courts not much had changed, with the two teams battling neck and neck for most of the afternoon.
But there are no ties in duels.
Class 4A Cheyenne Mountain's No. 2 doubles team pulled out a come-from-behind victory in the third set to earn a 4-3 win for the Indians and settle the score in a matchup featuring two squads that could well end up as Colorado's 4A and 5A state champs when the season is finished.
After all three of Fairview's singles players came away with wins, the Knights' Jessee Clauson and Hayley Young seemed to be in the driver's seat at No. 2 doubles, having won their first set 6-3 and leading the second 4-3. But the Indians duo of Lara Walden and Shelby Gilles fought back to win three straight games and take the set, sending the match into a third frame.
Clauson and Young started the third hot, jumping out to a quick 3-0 advantage. Yet the duo was unable to preserve the lead, as CMHS won the next three games before eventually taking the set 7-5 to seal the match and the dual.
"I knew it was going to be close and I knew it was going to come down to the wire," Fairview coach Susan Stensrud said. "Our 2 doubles finished ahead of them at the (Cheyenne Mountain) tournament so I thought we had the edge there, but they played a tough match."
Fairview jumped out to an early lead after senior Monica Li and junior Katie Kuosman breezed to straight set victories at No. 1 and 2 singles. Both players dispatched their opponents in under an hour by a score of 6-1, 6-2.
"I have the toughest singles in the state," Stensrud said. "They are a great comfort to me that I can consistently count on them to play their best."
Soon after Cheyenne Mountain began to display their dominance in doubles, locking in a 6-2, 6-3 victory at No. 1 and 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 3 to give each school two wins apiece.
Fairview's Katie Li was next to finish, securing a singles sweep for the Knights with a three-set comeback win. The younger Li looked to be in for a tough afternoon after dropping the first set 2-6 to the Indians' Kristen Sullivan. But the sophomore seemed to find a second wind just as the sun came out from behind the clouds and the strong gusts that were present earlier calmed.
Li wore down her opponent under the heat with lengthy rallies and stormed back to take the second 6-1. She then finished the job with a commanding 6-2 third set for the win.
"I just got more focused and I think maybe she got a little bit tired after the first (set), so she might have let down a little," Li said. "That happens to a lot of people."
The Knights had a chance to grab the win after their No. 4 doubles team of Hannah Embree and Sonia Ghosh came back to win its second set and push the match to a third. But the duo was overmatched in the final frame, as Cheyenne Mountain's Alison Lynch and Caroline Fitzhugh eventually prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, putting all the pressure on the No. 2 doubles court.
Fairview has little time to sulk, as the Knights head to Denver East on Wednesday for another dual before hosting the Front Range League Tournament on Thursday and Friday.
Coach Stensrud, however, isn't worried about her girls.
"We're excited," Stensrud said. "I talked about how losing a match is sometimes more beneficial because we're more likely to analyze how we play and how we change our game. Unfortunately, sometimes when you win a match you're just excited and you go home. So I think that sometimes it's an advantage to lose a match during the season."
Cheyenne Mountain 4, Fairview 3
At Fairview H.S.
Singles -- 1. Monica Li, Fairview, def. Lauren Renjard, 6-1, 6-2; 2. Katie Kuosman, Fairview, def. Peyton Fielding, 6-1, 6-2; 3. Katie Li, Fairview, def. Kristen Sullivan, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Doubles -- 1. Frances Adams/Caroline Kingo, Cheyenne Mountain, def. Paris Hogan/Megan Thayer, 6-2, 6-3; 2. Lara Walden/Shelby Gilles, Cheyenne Mountain, def. Jessee Clauson/Hayley Young, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5; 3. Katie Stagnaro/Lainey O'Neal, Cheyenne Mountain, def. Lindsey Nguyen/Caroline Kruger, 6-1, 6-2; 4. Alison Lynch/Caroline Fitzhugh, Cheyenne Mountian, def. Sonia Ghosh/Hannah Embree, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.