DENVER -- When asked how she managed to unleash enough energy to pull off an incredible comeback at the end of a long day, Fairview junior Katie Li was quick to credit the food.
If that really was the secret to Li's success, expect an army of girls to be scarfing down fruit snacks Saturday at the Gates Tennis Center in hopes of tasting just a touch of Li's magic.
Li won what arguably was the most thrilling match of the day Friday at the Class 5A state tennis tournament, overcoming a deficit that included Li facing match point on three separate occasions before she outlasted Cherry Creek's Rachel Scheper to earn a spot in the No. 3 singles state title match.
Fairview freshman Natalie Munson also advanced to Saturday's title matches at No. 2 singles. The championship matches are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. at Gates.
"It was the food. A lot of fruit snacks," Li said. "And my coach really supported me. I guess I just started realizing that I just had to try my best and that I couldn't control anything else. That made me a lot better. I knew I had to keep consistent and keep the pressure on, because Rachel Scheper is really strong."
Because Li was unable to start her first-round match as scheduled on Thursday before rain washed out the bulk of the tournament's first day, Li played two matches before the showdown against Scheper, recording straight-set wins against Angelica Buczynski of ThunderRidge and Paige Stockton of Lakewood.
In the semifinals against Scheper, Li dropped the first set 7-5 and trailed the second set 5-1, surviving three instances when one more shot by Scheper would have ended Li's state title dreams. Instead, Li rallied to tie Scheper 6-6 and dominated the tie-breaker 7-0. Li carried that momentum into the final set, earning her state final berth with a 6-0 decision.
"She's a good player and I kept thinking she'd come back," said Li, who will take on Denver East's Natalia Dellavalle for the state title. "I also think there was a little luck with some of those points."
Munson took a much less dramatic route to nail down her berth in the No. 2 singles final. The rookie advanced out of an opening match Munson was winning handily when rain suspended play Thursday as her opponent, Mountain Vista's Leia Krebsbach, withdrew. Munson then recorded a pair of relatively stress-free straight-set victories, advancing to the final with a 6-3, 6-0 win against Fossil Ridge's Kaitlyn Motley in the semifinals.
"The morning was a tough match, but I think (Motley) was a bit tired because I've played her before," said Munson, who will take on Cherry Creek's Gloria Son in the No. 2 singles final. "Throughout the season I've beaten a lot of girls who have already been in this, but I haven't played Cherry Creek yet. That will be tough, but it's really exciting."
Knights senior Katie Kuosman saw her bid for a third singles state title end with a 6-2, 6-2 loss against Rebecca Weissmann in the No. 1 singles semifinal. Kuosman, along with the No. 2 doubles team of Anastasiya Nicol and Jackie Schmiedeler, will have an opportunity to compete for third-place and add team points to Fairview's total when the playback matches begin at 8 a.m. Saturday.
"I recently played (Weissmann) for the league championship," Kuosman said. "She's just very mentally tough. That's her biggest thing. She's a wonderful player and can hit all the stuff. But most of all it's her mentality."
Follow Pat on Twitter: @prooney07
Class 5A state tournament
At Gates Tennis Center
(Local results only)
No. 1 singles -- First round: Katie Kuosman, Fairview, def. Kendra LaValle, Mountain Vista, 6-2, 6-0; Quarterfinals: Kuosman def. Shawnea Pagat, Fossil Ridge, 6-2, 6-0; Semifinals: Rebecca Weissmann, Loveland, def. Kuosman, 6-2, 6-2.
No. 2 singles -- First round: Natalie Munson, Fairview, def. Leia Krebsbach, Mountain Vista, WD; Quarterfinals: Munson def. Haley Chirico, Regis Jesuit, 6-3, 6-1; Semifinals: Munson def. Kaitlyn Motley, Fossil Ridge, 6-3, 6-0.
No. 3 singles -- First round: Katie Li, Fairview, def. Angelica Buczynski, ThunderRidge, 6-1, 6-1; Quarterfinals: Li def. Paige Stockton, Lakewood, 6-1, 6-0; Semifinals: Li def. Rachel Scheper, Cherry Creek, 5-7, 7-6 (7-0, 6-0.
No. 1 doubles -- First round: Jessee Clauson/Hannah Embree, Fairview, def. Ashia Ajani/Madeline Pellicore, Denver East, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; Quarterfinals: Lindsay Schroder/Allison Smith, Ponderosa, def. Clauson/Embree 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 2 doubles -- First round: Anastasiya Nicol/Jackie Schmiedeler, Fairview, def. Nicole Eiten/Brooke Jacks, 6-2, 6-2; Quarterfinals: Nicol/Schmiedeler def. Kaye Johnson/Ally Williams, Denver East; Semifinals: Nicole Newell/Lauren Rhoda, Fossil Ridge, def. Nicol/Schmiedeler, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
No. 4 doubles -- Skylar Caledonia/Jessie Merheb, Fairview, def. Kelsi Barnett/Kayla Lyon, Fruita Monument, 6-1, 6-4; Quarterfinals: Katie Spaulding/Emma Chesire, Doherty, def. Caledonia/Merheb.