PUEBLO - Setting the tone early was all a part of the plan for Brett Finan.
The Peak to Peak junior left southern Colorado a state champion after beating Kent Denver's Jack Moldenhauer 6-3, 6-3 in the No. 1 singles final at the Class 4A state tennis tournament.
He did it by starting strong and breaking Moldenhauer's serve in the very first game of the match. By putting the Kent senior on his heels, Finan showed that Saturday's final was going to be played at his pace.
"I needed to come out and get that break just to get it going," Finan said.
Once he had control, Finan was not going to give it back. He surrendered a few bad points through unforced errors here and there, but after he regained focus in the eighth game of the first set, he slammed home three big serves, just to remind Moldenhauer that, at least for today, he was outmatched.
"When I'm down, I just get in my zone and start hitting big serves," Finan said. "I knew I had to hit big serves to get back in that game."
He took a commanding 5-3 lead in the set at that point. He knew he had three chances to get the win, but he didn't want to leave anything to chance. Moldenhauer made it a little easier, double-faulting set point to Finan.
"I think maybe Jack didn't get into the match too well today," Finan said. "And I just played really well."
That play continued into the second set where once again built a commanding lead that Moldenhauer was not going to climb back from.
After falling short in the final a year ago, Finan enters the record books as a state champion. Moldenhauer didn't go home empty-handed as the Sun Devils claimed their fifth-straight team title.
Niwot's Riley Black also came away a winner on Saturday. He beat Aspen's Alex Ilic in the No. 2 singles consolation final, giving him a third-place finish in the tournament.
Black played in the finals for No. 3 singles in 2016 and even if it's the finals or the consolation, coming out of Saturday with a win something he wanted to do this year.
"I lost last year on Saturday and it's nice to get a win this year, knowing that I improved and it shows in the results," Black said.
Dawson's Conner Larson also won his match on Saturday. He finished third in the No. 3 singles bracket.
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Class 4A state championship
At Pueblo City Park
Team scores — Kent Denver 89, Colorado Academy 81, Cheyenne Mountain 35, Niwot 25, Dawson 21, Peak to Peak 17, Valor Christian 16, Aspen 13, Discovery Canyon 11, Thompson Valley 4, Silver Creek 2, Longmont 0, Erie 0.
Dawson School results — No. 3 Singles - Connor Larson def. Christian Ridings (Cheyenne Mountain) 6-1 1-6 6-4; No. 2 Doubles - Michael Dashiell/Grant Leap def. Phil Geragthy/Sam Troughton 6-3 7-5.
Niwot results — No. 2 Singles -Riley Black def. Alex Ilic (Aspen) 6-1 6-4; No. 4 Doubles - Bennett Ziegler/Carver Ward (Cheyenne Mountain) def. Jongwon Lee/Peter Lee 7-6 6-2.
Peak to Peak results — No. 1 Singles - Brett Finan def. Jack Moldenhauer (Kent Denver) 6-3 6-3.