PUEBLO - The start of the Class 4A boys state tennis tournament might have been delayed, but there was no delay for Niwot when it came to advancing in the brackets.
The Cougars advanced all seven positions to the state quarterfinals which will now take place on Friday due to play being delayed five hours because of weather.
Ben Bicknell was the first Cougar off the court after taking down Coronado's Jackson Shaeffer 6-0, 6-0 in the first round in No. 3 singles. By the time Neil Wilcox beat Alameda's Kenny Orive in No. 1 singles, his team had officially jumped out to a quick start which was the goal long before any cloud cover made its way to Pueblo City Park this week.
"It was a pretty big one," Wilcox said. "I feel like if we start off good, we can carry that through the rest of the tournament."
Niwot is looking to duplicate the success that the girls team had last spring. It was on the same courts in Pueblo that the Cougars claimed the team state championship as well as individual titles in five positions.
After Thursday's first round, the Cougars were tied with Colorado Academy, Kent Denver and Cheyenne Mountain with seven total team points.
With a strong team coming into the boys season, coach Mikka Keronen didn't see any reason that the results couldn't be nearly identical.
"Everybody realized we could do it," Keronen said. "The boys who were down here in the spring and the girls who are down here as managers. We're almost like one team as opposed to separate programs. We have summer workouts together so the girls want us to win like the boys wanted them to win."
The five-hour delay didn't seem to have an adverse effect on the Cougars. To the contrary, it played into the favor of some of the boys.
"I can't speak for the rest of my team, but I found it to be a little bit of a relief," Wilcox said. "I don't like early morning matches so getting to play later was definitely good for me."
Others shared his opinion. Longmont's Danny O'Brien played to an intense 6-1, 7-5 win over Silver Creek's Christian Hirano in No. 3 singles.
By the time he came away with that seventh game in the second, he suddenly became appreciative for the way the day played out.
"I know I'll be playing someone tough tomorrow," O'Brien said. "I'm glad I only played one today because it was a long match. I'm pretty tired right now."
Coming into Friday's two rounds of play, Niwot is looking to capitalize on an opportunity a lot teams haven't been given in recent years. Kent Denver has stood atop the 4A boys tennis world as of late, almost to the point where teams who were in the running on the second and third days were beaten mentally.
That's why Niwot is moving forward with one thing that can really make the difference this year.
"Confidence," Wilcox said. "I feel like last year we came in here expecting to lose. This year I think we expect to win it."
First, they'll have to battle through two rounds of play on Friday. If they can advance a good number of positions into finals, that expectation could start to look like a reality.
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Class 4A State Tournament
At Pueblo City Park
Team scores — Colorado Academy 7, Kent Denver 7, Niwot 7, Cheyenne Mountain 7, Mullen 5, Dawson School 4, Aspen 4, D'Evelyn 2, Discovery Canyon 2, Littleton 2, Golden 1, Thompson Valley 1, Longmont 1, Fountain Valley 1, Pueblo West 1, Steamboat Springs 1.
No. 1 singles — Holbrook, Dawson, def. Fredell, Coronado, 6-3, 6-4; Lorenz, Discovery Canyon, def. Arndt, Longmont, 6-0, 6-0; Wilcox, Niwot, def. Orive, Alameda, 6-2, 6-1.
No. 2 singles — Black, Niwot, def. Rindone, Vail Mountain, 6-0, 6-1; Kemmet, Pueblo West, def. Geraghty, Dawson School, 4-6, 6-3-6-4; Jones, Cheyenne Mountain, def. Matheson, Longmont, 6-0, 6-2.
No. 3 singles — Bicknell, Niwot, def. Shaeffer, Coronado, 6-0, 6-0; Oliver, Dawson, def. Mosher, Aspen, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; O'Brien, Longmont, def. Hirano, Silver Creek, 6-1, 7-5.
No. 1 doubles — Leap/Metz, def. Seamons/D'Epagnier, Longmont, 6-2, 6-4; Troughton/Orris, Dawson, def. Enoch/Graham, Coronad, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0; Starkey/Dino, Mullen def. Van Vuuren/Van Vuuren, Silver Creek, 6-2, 7-5; Keronen/Saini, Niwot, def. Zimmerman/Miller, Palmer Ridge, 6-1, 6-1.
No. 2 doubles — Keeley/Grant-Krenz, Dawson def. Kettelapper/Dick-Montez, Centaurus, 6-3, 6-3; Lavrouk/Mulshine, Niwot, def. Dawsey/Gay, 6-4, 4-1.
No. 3 doubles — Liu/Brinker, Colorado Academy, 6-0, 6-0, def. Seamons/Corcoran, Longmont, 6-0, 6-0; Glaser/Gross, Littleton, def. Patel/Geraghty, Dawson, 6-4, 6-4; Bickham/Calderon, Niwot, def. Heller/Rubald, Denver North, 6-1, 6-1; Amparan/Esteban, Silver Creek, vs. Jones/Niccoli,Pueblo Centennial susp.
No. 4 doubles — Gaghen/Miller, Colorado Academy, def. Belous/Golovanov, Silver Creek, 6-2, 6-0; Wells/Johnson, Kent Denver, def. Mconahy/Byrne, Longmont, 6-2, 6-1; Moy/Lee, Niwot, def. Phams/Lewis, Coronado, 6-0, 6-1.