BROOMFIELD — Fairview's Natalie Munson let a No. 2 singles state title slip through her fingers as a freshman last season. If she keeps up the type of play she's demonstrated early in her sophomore year, that's not likely to happen again.
Athleticism and determination propelled Munson to a state runner-up finish in her first year of prep tennis. Several weeks into a weather-disrupted season, Munson is showing the state that she has added some maturity, and a new array of killer strokes, to her arsenal.
Returning to the No. 2 singles spot this season, the Knights sophomore believes she may have added enough new weapons to break through the thin veil that separated her from a state title in 2013.
"This year, I'm definitely hoping to take state," Munson said. "I want to go and play really well down there. A lot of people moved up so the competition maybe isn't as high and I'm more experienced coming into it this year. Last year it was new and I was pretty content with finishing second. This year I want to either tie it or beat it."
On Tuesday at the Broomfield Swim & Tennis Club, Munson defeated Broomfield High senior Marisa Eafanti 6-2, 6-2. Part of a 7-0 team dual victory, the win kept Munson undefeated at 4-0 and kept her early-season rhythm on its beat.
"I played pretty well," Munson said. "It was fun because that girl is really friendly and I met some goals that I had in my mind like throwing the ball high enough on my serve and catching it at the right point. For ground strokes, I wanted to hit past the service line and keep it deeper in general. For the most part, it went well."
For the Knights, who placed third at state last year, head coach Susan Stensrud said Tuesday's win was a solid victory over a tough opponent.
As for Munson's early title campaign, Stensrud said Munson's new and improved mental toughness showed in her ability to hold of Eafanti, who wrested control of the match for several stretches.
"She's still fast but this year she's stroking the ball better and she's significantly stronger," Stensrud said. "She's also more consistent and the setbacks that happen during a match don't seem to bother her as much. It's hard to play singles because you can lose a couple games and get frustrated. She's not doing that. She's pretty even."
Also for the Knights, three-time No. 3 singles champion Katie Li won 6-0, 6-0 over junior varsity call-up Jael Perna, who substituted for Eagles senior Dayna DeMeritte at No. 1 singles while she is on a college trip. Knights senior Hannah Embree rounded out the singles sweep with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Eagles senior Ali Dionigi at No. 3 singles.
In the premier doubles match, Knights Jackie Schmiedeler and Nastiya Nicol defeated Broomfield's Jenni Sides and Anna Chrisman 6-2, 6-1.
Knights senior Ellie Lupo teamed with freshman Angela Cai to beat Eagles sisters Mikayla Clements and Madi Clements 6-2, 6-4 at No. 2 doubles. At No. 3 doubles, Fairview's Kat Lane and Alli Thamm won 6-2, 6-0 over Jenna Ireland and Sarah Huh.
Stensrud said she was impressed with the way sophomore Carolyn Roberts and freshman Ellie Savage moved laterally and aggressively to beat Broomfield's Ruth Delevoryas and Marie Hynek 6-1, 6-1 at No. 4 doubles.
First-year Eagles head coach Tara Tovar said she's had to restructure her lineup a bit so the Eagles have had to rebuild chemistry in the doubles pairs. Against one of the top 5A teams in Colorado, Tovar said the dual was a good showing for the Eagles, particularly Eafanti against Munson.
"They were (third) at state last year so we were prepared for a powerhouse," Tovar said. "But I feel like my girls were playing pretty well and really battling. I definitely saw some moments of really good tennis and them thinking like tennis players. That makes me happy."
Follow Brad on Twitter: twitter.com/BradCochi
Fairview 7, Broomfield 0
At Broomfield Swim & Tennis Club
Singles — 1. Katie Li, Fairview, def. Jael Perna, Broomfield, 6-0, 6-0; 2. Natalie Munson, Fairview, def. Marisa Eafanti, Broomfield, 6-2, 6-2; 3. Hannah Embree, Fairview, def. Ali Dionigi, Broomfield, 6-1, 6-1.
Doubles — 1. Jackie Schmiedeler/Nastiya Nicol, Fairview, def. Jenni Sides/Anna Chrisman, Broomfield, 6-2, 6-1; 2. Ellie Lupo/Angela Cai, Fairview, def. Mikayla Clements/Madi Clements, Broomfield, 6-2, 6-4; 3. Kat Lane/Alli Thamm, Fairview, def. Jenna Ireland/Sarah Huh, Broomfield, 6-2, 6-0; 4. Carolyn Roberts/Ellie Savage, Fairview, def. Ruth Delevoryas/Marie Hynek, Broomfield, 6-1, 6-1.