PUEBLO — It took the Dawson Mustangs less than one day to figure out two fundamental truths about the Class 4A boys state tennis tournament.
First, the level of play is much tougher than anything they see during the regular season.
Second — and more importantly — it's more fun when the entire team qualifies and is able able to compete at the three-day event.
For just the second time in school history, the Mustangs qualified all seven positions. They first did it back in 2011. A year ago, they only qualified the doubles teams.
And without a doubt, it was much more fun for the entire team to play, root each other on and have a better shot at vying for a state title.
"Last year we only brought our doubles teams and we still managed to finish seventh," coach Kathryn Benninghoff said. "We figured if we brought everyone, we'd be much better. And it's more fun."
The Mustangs sit in sixth place after the first two rounds of play. But they can only compete for team points from here on out as they were shut out of Friday's semifinal matchups.
But even as they await the results of Friday's semis to see if they'll be eligible for playbacks, the overall experience of coming down with all their teammates made the state experience well worth it.
"It's definitely great bringing everybody and having all the boys behind us and not leaving people behind," Finn Jones said. "That's always tough, having people stay home. It's much better with everyone here."
And the hope is that with 11 players at state this year, it will become a more regular occurrence as Dawson looks to be able to come more with the Kent Denvers and Colorado Academies of high school tennis.
"If we can just continue to keep doing this, this is one of the most solid teams we've had, I think we're only going to get better," Jones said.
In the No. 1 singles grouping, it was a good day for locals as Niwot's Matt Chavez and Peak to Peak's Brett Finan both advanced and will meet Friday morning.
Finan came off a brutal three-set match over George Washington's Daniel Guiot, winning 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.
He rolled to a 6-4, 6-0 win over Fountain Valley's Vinay Merchant in the quarterfinals.
"My confidence was raised (after the first round)," Finan said. "I didn't play my best, but I as able to grind through it."
Chavez had little trouble advancing, going through Cheyenne Mountain's Christian Riddings 6-4, 6-2 and Air Academy's Stefan Orton-Urbina 6-4, 6-0.
"I'm really excited that I made it to the semis," Chavez said. "My goal is to make it to the finals and win state. I progressively got better through the day and hopefully I continue that on Friday."
Niwot advanced three other positions to Friday's semis as Riley Black moved on in No. 3 singles, Sam Bickham and Andrew Thomas advanced in No. 3 doubles and Patrick Xiao and Adin Heinritz advanced in No. 4 doubles.
The No. 2 doubles Silver Creek team of Jake Fuhrman and Justin Thompson also advanced to Friday's semifinals.
Class 4A state tournament
Team scores — 1. Kent Denver 21, Colorado Academy 19, Niwot 12, Aspen 12, Silver Creek 6, Dawson 5, Lewis-Palmer 4, Valor Christian 4, Discovery Canyon 4, Peak to Peak 4.; 2.
Dawson resultsThird-place matches
No. 1 singles — Matthew Lambert (Aspen) def. Connor Larson 6-0, 6-1.
No 2. singles — Dillon Leasure (Aspen) def. Riley Burridge 3-6, 6-0, 6-1.
No 3. singles — Carter Holbrook def. Xavier Pacheco (Valor Christian) 6-3, 2-6, 3-0 (WD); Niko Hereford (Kent Denver) def. Holbrook 6-2, 6-0.
No. 1 doubles — Gavyn Pure/Finn Jones def. Keita Ben Rowland/Ethan Spillers (Lewis-Palmer) 6-1 6-2; Garrett Sutter/Nicholas Pulido (Colorado Academy) def. Pure/Jones 6-3 6-3.
No. 2 doubles — Cade McClellan/Seth Clementedef. Dallas Dye/Austin Dereksen (Longmont) 6-1 6-2; Alex Wimer/Oliver Greenwald (Kent Denver) def. McClellan/Clemente 6-0, 6-2.
No 3. doubles — Ben Howson/Sam Troughtondef. Adam Teske/Zack Wilcox(Palmer Ridge) 6-2 6-1; Sam Bickham/Andrew Thomas (Niwot) def. Howson/Troughton4-6 7-5, 6-0.
No. 4 doubles — Ryan Otto/Cam Cramerdef. Dylan Miller/Stephen McDonald (Pueblo Central)6-0 6-2; Jack Cuntz/Blake Kusava (Evergreen) def. Otto/Cramer 6-3, 7-5.
No. 1 doubles — Garrett Sutter/Nicholas Pulido(Colorado Academy) def. CJ Fryberger/Kaden Randolph 6-1, 6-3.
No. 2 doubles — Cade McClellan/Seth Clemente (Dawson) def. Dallas Dye/Austin Dereksen6-1 6-2.
No. 1 singles — Matt Chavezdef. Christian Ridings (Cheyenne Mountain) 6-4, 6-2; Chavez def. Stefan Orton-Urbina (Air Academy) 6-4, 6-0.
No. 2 singles — Quinn Bermingham (Colorado Academy)def. CadanKammerer2-6 6-4, 6-4.
No. 3 singles — Riley Blackdef.Tanner Colson (LewisPalmer)6-3 6-1; Black def. Michael Nagus (Silver Creek)6-0 6-1.
No. 1 doubles — Keegan Mehall/Gabriel Suarez(Aspen)def. ManasSains/PeterGraham6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
No 2. doubles — Riley Mulshine/Cruz Culpepperdef. AhyoFalick/Peter Cordasco(AirAcademy) 6-1 6-3; Mulshine/Culpepper def. Wyatt Stempel/River Fox-Welch(Steamboat Springs)6-1 6-4.
No. 3 doubles — Sam Bickham/Andrew Thomasdef. Jack Meiter/Justin Brand(Air Academy)6-0 6-1; Bickham/Thomas def. Ben Howson/Sam Troughton(Dawson) 4-6, 7-5, 6-0.
No. 4 doubles — Zachary Lundgren/Reese Colson(Lewis Palmer)def. Patrick Xiao/Adin Heinritz5-7, 6-2, 6-4.
Peak to Peak results
No. 1 singles — Brett Finan def. Daniel Guiot (George Washingotn) 6-3, 2-6, 7-5; Finan def. Vinay Merchant (Fountain Valley)6-0 6-4.
No. 2 Singles —Teo Cariovdef. Joey Geisz (Cheyenne Mountain) 1-6, 6-3, 6-4; Quinn Bermingham, (Colorado Academy)def. Cariov 6-2 6-2.
No. 4 Singles — Alex Baum/Trent Beckman(Kent Denver)def. DimitiGourgouris/Grant Lancaster6-1 6-2.
Silver Creek results
No. 2 singles — Brandon Nelsen def. Connor Campbell (Air Academy) 6-4, 6-2; Tom Hudson (D'Evelyn) def. Nelsen 6-1, 6-4.
No. 3 singles — Michael Nagus def. Eric Grieshaber (Mullen) 6-4, 6-4; Riley Black(Niwot) def. Nagus 6-0, 6-1.
No. 2 doubles — Jake Fuhrman/Justin Thompson def. John Paul Starkey/Tanner Amman(Mullen) 4-6, 6-0, 6-2; Fuhrman/Thompson def. Patrick Tooley/Tucker Balman(Palmer Ridge) 6-3, 6-4.
No. 3 doubles — Matthew Mazzetta/Jared Nielson def. Ryder Aguilar/Taylor Proud(Pueblo Centennial) 6-1, 6-0; Cameron Pollock/Emmett Ela(Colorado Academy) def. Mazzetta/Nielson 6-4, 6-3.