LONGMONT — Longmont's Brenden Arndt was happy to assume the No. 1 singles spot for the Trojans right from the outset of his prep career.
While he proudly relished the opportunity to lead his team into every match, Arndt was never really afforded the opportunity to ease into high school tennis as a result. His freshman season of playing No. 1 singles was rough on him. His sophomore year was a little better. But now, Arndt is truly developing into a staff ace and what he believes to be the best tennis of his prep career is finally translating into victories and medals.
In his mind, Arndt's next big enterprise is to qualify for the state tournament. In the Longmont Invitational finals on Saturday, Arndt got his first look at what stands in his way when he lost 6-0, 6-2 to reigning Class 4A runner-up Brett Finan from Peak to Peak.
"It was a long morning but I'm glad we got to play it out because he's in my region and it's good to know who I'm going to play," Arndt said. "It was a tough match but I thought I played well in the second set. I'm mentally a lot better than I was the past two years and I've been able to pull out more matches this year. That guy is really good, though."
It's true, Finan is unbeaten this season and remained that way to claim first place at Carr Park on Saturday. But if Arndt hopes to reach the state tournament, he'll have to qualify out of a brutal Region 5 tournament that includes Finan and Niwot's talented freshman Neil Wilcox, both of whom have now beaten him this season.
"I've never been to state but this is probably my best chance right now because I'm more experienced than last year and Niwot is a younger team," Arndt said. "But it's still obviously going to be really tough."
Just getting Saturday's finals completed was also tough, given the standing water left over from the night before and steady drizzle throughout the morning. The start of the finals was delayed from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
With runner-up Ralston Valley forfeiting all Saturday matches because of another commitment, Dawson School easily emerged victorious in the team competition. Mustangs junior Carter Holbrook defeated Thompson Valley's Landon Lees 6-4, 6-2, to place third at No. 2 singles. Taking home the No. 3 singles title, Mustangs senior Connor Larson defeated Thompson Valley Adam Brubaker 6-3, 6-2 in the championship match.
So far in 2017, Larson is undefeated at No. 3 singles after qualifying for state at No. 1 singles last season.
"He's a good player and it was a close match but I was able to tough it out," Larson said. "I thought they were going to cancel it but I was really glad that we got to play this match. My goal is just to go as far as possible at state and have fun while doing it. So far, it's going really well."
Singles at Carr Park, Doubles at Pratt Park
Team — Dawson 71, Ralston Valley 48, Peak to Peak 43, Thompson Valley 32, Longmont 26, Cherry Creek 23, Cherokee Trail 13, Centaurus 4, Conifer 1, Skyline 1.
Singles — 1. Brett Finan, Peak to Peak, def. Brenden Arndt, Longmont, 6-0, 6-2; 2. Teo Cariov, Peak to Peak, won by default; 3. Connor Larson, Dawson, def. Adam Brubaker, Thompson Valley, 6-3, 6-2.
Doubles — 1. Gavyn Pure/Finn Jones, Dawson, won by default; 2. Sam Troughton/Phil Geraghty, Dawson, def. Markus Manly/Paul Pak, Cherry Creek, 6-0, 6-2; 3. Ryan Oliver/Jordy Grant-Krenz, Dawson, won by default; 4. Blake Holst/Walter Wedewer, Cherry Creek, won by default.
Singles — 1. Riley Burridge, Dawson, won by default; 2. Carter Holbrook, Dawson, def. Landon Lees, Thompson Valley, 6-4, 6-2; 3. Ishan Kumar, Peak to Peak, won by default.
Doubles — 1. Clayton D'Epagnier/Austin Derken, Longmont, def. Jon Szwaja/Haakon Irey, Thompson Valley, 6-4, 6-2; 2. Thompson Valley won by default; 3. Branden Jacobs/Charlie Colby, Cherry Creek, def. Evan Penczek/Luke Nickerson, Centaurus, 6-1, 6-2; 4. Dawson Santangelo/Liam Keeley, Dawson, def. Nathan Populorum/Akshay Mungeker, Cherokee Trail, 6-1, 6-3.