DENVER — Fairview's Graham Blanco could have imagined more ideal circumstances for his final state tournament but, as a senior, he knows that ideal scenarios rarely come to fruition.
A wrist injury kept Blanco from competing at the Front Range League tournament. That lingering injury, combined with cramps in both of his calves, derailed his state championship run with a one-set lead in the Class 5A No. 3 singles state quarterfinals on Thursday.
Two days and two agonizing matches later, Blanco defeated Cherry Creek's Alex Gordon, 6-1, 6-1, and claimed third place in his final high school tennis match. Given his physical maladies, Blanco left Gates Tennis Center confidently, knowing he did all he could.
The Fairview Knights senior wasn't presented with his ideal scenario. Blanco did, however, finish with the flurry he had envisioned for his final campaign.
"I think I played really well," Blanco said. "I had to battle some injuries but I was able to bounce back and play well down the stretch. It was interesting to learn and play with that wrist injury. Overall, at a leadership position like three singles, I'm proud of the way I was able to finish."
Blanco was the last player off the court on Friday after a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 consolation semifinal win against Regis Jesuit's Erich Nuss. On Saturday, Fairview's No. 2 singles player Ethan Schacht closed down the state tournament, but with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 loss to Heritage's Jack Alexander to place fourth. Knights junior Tom Melville also placed fourth, losing 6-1, 7-5 to Denver East's Kai Smith at No. 1 singles.
At No. 1 doubles, Knights seniors Devin Harper and David Zhao finished off their dominant run to a state title, defeating Regis Jesuit's Luca Abbott and Will Dennen 6-1, 6-2 in the state championship match. At No. 2 doubles, Beck Chrisbens and Andy Wu took fourth, Brooks Savage and Adam Chehadi placed third at No. 3 doubles, and Aaron Nguyen and Hall Humphrey placed third at No. 4 doubles.
With 60 team points, the Knights finished runners-up for the sixth consecutive season.
"Graham came out focused and that was the best thing about that match," Fairview coach Chad Tsuda said. "This year was just a great experience for our young guys to play under that type of pressure and scrutiny," Tsuda said. "Our older guys came in, set an example, kept their composure and their confidence, and stayed strong until the end. Devin and David played that way all season and that's why they're our champions."
Class 5A boys tennis state championships
At Gates Tennis Center
Team scores — Cherry Creek 81, Fairview 60, Denver East 59, Regis Jesuit 47, Fossil Ridge 24, Heritage 17, Overland 15, Mountain Vista 4, Grand Junction 4, Monarch 4, Arapahoe 2, Boulder 2, Broomfield 2, Horizon 2, Rock Canyon 1, Fort Collins 1, Coronado 1, Chatfield 1, Grandview 1.
No. 1 singles — Ethan Hillis, Cherry Creek, def. Dawid Kijak, Overland, 6-0, 6-1.
No. 2 singles — Charlie Franks, Denver East, def. Robby Hill, Cherry Creek, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4.
No. 3 singles — Akhil Gupta, Fossil Ridge, def. Bryce Viorst, Denver East, 6-1, 6-2.
No. 1 doubles — Devin Harper/David Zhao, Fairview, def. Luca Abbott/Will Dennen, Regis Jesuit, 6-1, 6-2.
No. 2 doubles — Evan Nuss/Emilio Gonzalez-Cruz, def. David Glazer/Patrick Berzins, Denver East, 6-3, 6-0.
No. 3 doubles — Stone Heyman/Nick Eidler, Cherry Creek, def. Matt McCarthy/Gabe Caldwell-Nepveux, Regis Jesuit, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6.
No. 4 doubles — Zach Smith/Nick Svichar, Cherry Creek, def. James O'Connor/Matthew Mahoney, Regis Jesuit, 6-2, 7-6.
No. 1 singles — Kai Smith, Denver East, def. Tom Melville, Fairview, 6-1, 7-5.
No. 2 singles — Jack Alexander, Heritage, def. Ethan Schacht, Fairview, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.
No. 3 singles — Graham Blanco, Fairview, def. Alex Gordon, Cherry Creek, 6-1, 6-1.
No. 1 doubles — Jacob Bendalin/Ben Murray, Cherry Creek, def. Tyrone Braxton/Eric Dellavalle, Denver East, 6-4, 6-2.
No. 2 doubles — Sam Angel/Drew Hill, def. Beck Chrisbens/Andy Wu, 6-3, 6-1.
No. 3 doubles — Brooks Savage/Adam Chehadi, Fairview, def. Adam Hargis/Cam Salz, 6-2, 6-1.
No. 4 doubles — Aaron Nguyen/Hall Humphrey, def. Will Franks/Jack LaBarge, Denver East, 7-6, 6-4.