BOULDER -- Natalie Munson's goal her freshman tennis season at Fairview was to claim one of the prestigious singles positions in the lineup. Since claiming the No. 2 spot in the Knight's ladder, she has made a strong case that she is deserving of the lofty rung despite her youth.
Off to a 12-1 record so far, Munson beat Boulder's Audrey Vivas 6-2, 6-3 to help lead the Knights to a 5-2 win in Thursday's cross-town rivalry matchup. A first-year prep player but longtime club player, Munson appreciates the merit of her impressive start with the 2012 state runner-up Knights.
"It's been fun," Munson said. "It was a goal to play singles at Fairview because I knew it was such a good school for tennis. Just being in the No. 2 spot is something to be proud of. I definitely want to get to finals at state, if not win it."
While Munson's freshman singles status is impressive, she's not the only youngster flying solo for a state title contender. Munson, who said Mountain Range freshman Kristen Kirby has been her toughest match so far, expects Cherry Creek freshman Gloria Son to be the primary obstacle between her and a state title. Her only loss this season came against 4A defending No. 2 singles champion Payton Fielding from Cheyenne Mountain.
Like all teams, the weather has limited the Knights' match and practice time this season. The Fairview student council cleared the courts with brooms and squeegees before Thursday's match.
Facing Vivas on a mostly-dry Fairview High court surrounded by 6 inches of snow, Munson had to knock a little rust
"I didn't play as well as I usually do, but I just had to keep it going. I play year-round so I'm used to it," said Munson, who plays at The Ranch Country Club in Westminster. "I feel like I could just walk on the court after not playing for a month. I just wanted to get side to side and play the ball where she wasn't."
Last year's 5A No. 2 singles state champ Katie Kuosman defeated Boulder's Jamie Young 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
At No. 1 doubles, Hannah Embree and Jessee Clauson, who won the No. 2 doubles state title with Hayley Young last season, beat Boulder's Halonah Paiss and Savannah Hornung 6-2, 6-3.
"We haven't been playing much because of the snow but Hannah and I are good friends so we click anyway," Clauson said. "It's kind of hard to get back into it when you haven't been playing. We have a good amount of work to do before state."
Also winning for Fairview, Nastiya Nicol and Jackie Schmiedeler came back to beat Boulder's Abby Friedmann and Audrey Albright 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 at No. 2 doubles. Playing No. 4 doubles, Jessie Merheb and Clara Oakley overcame a second-set hiccup to win 6-3, 0-6, 10-7 over Boulder's Emily Clancy and Hanna Davis.
Despite leaving with a win, Knights coach Susan Stensrud said Thursday was the first time she hadn't swept Boulder 7-0 in her nine years as head coach.
In the final match of the afternoon, Boulder's Hayleigh Criss and Tanya Cooper won a back-and-forth 5-7, 6-4, 10-7 victory over Fairview's Alli Thamm and Skylar Caledonia.
"The match was fun and exciting," Criss said. "They were really good opponents. We did what our coaches taught us and got to the net. We really wanted to win because Fairview is our biggest rival and we won with perseverance."
Also winning for Boulder, Lexi Mangan defeated Laura Jamison 2-6, 6-2, 11-9 at No. 3 singles.
Jamison, who normally plays No. 3 doubles, filled in for two-time state singles champion Katie Li, who sat out with the flu. Li won the 5A No. 2 singles state title in 2011 and the No. 3 title in 2012.
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Fairview 5, Boulder 2
At Fairview H.S.
Singles -- 1. Katie Kuosman, Fairview, def. Jamie Young, 6-0, 6-0; 2. Natalie Munson, Fairview, def. Audrey Vivas, 6-2, 6-3; 3. Lexi Mangan, Boulder, def. Laura Jamison, 2-6, 6-3, 11-9.
Doubles -- 1. Hannah Embree/Jessee Clauson, Fairview, def. Halonah Paiss/Savannah Hornung, 6-2, 6-3; 2. Nastiya Nicol/Jackie Schmiedeler, Fairview, def. Abby Friedmann/Audrey Albright, 4-6, 6-4, 10-8; 3. Hayleigh Criss/Tanya Cooper, Boulder, def. Alli Thamm/Skylar Caledonia, 5-7, 6-4, 11-9; 4. Jessie Merheb/Clara Oakley, Fairview, def. Emily Clancy/Hanna Davis, 6-3, 0-6, 10-7.