BOULDER — Rachel Drake has played tennis for a long time, still nothing quite prepared the Niwot freshman for the biggest tournament of the prep season.
The regional tournament demands the best from every player at all times if they want to punch their ticket to state.
Drake found that out in her first match against Standley Lake's Paulina Nguyen. After dropping the first set to the Gators former No. 1 player at No. 3 singles, she rallied back for a three-set victory 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
"I think the mentality of knowing I could get through those three sets really helped me," Drake said. "My playing was good, all I had to do was get the shots in and I took that with me to my second match."
Drake moved one step closer to achieving her goal of reaching the state tournament, winning her semifinal match 6-0, 6-1 over Dawson School's Allie Blank.
"My teammates told me I was going to be nervous and I just tried to have fun and play to the best of my ability," said Drake, who will face Holy Family's Elly Beyer Thursday morning at 9 a.m. back at the CU's South Tennis Complex.
It was a banner day for the Cougars in the singles ranks. Sophomores Julia Pentz (No. 1 singles) and Taylor Thulson (No. 2) lost a total of six game between them en route to earning their way into Thursday's championship matches.
Pentz, after an opening round bye, beat Longmont's Rebecca Eisele 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinals and then Silver Creek's Elsa Erickson 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals.
"Going in I was definitely a little nervous. I just wanted to play my game do my best and tried focusing on not letting everything else around me get to my head," said Pentz, who draws Standley Lake's Rachel Nguyen in the finals.
In Erickson, Pentz has faced the Raptors senior multiple times over the years, and didn't take anything for granted.
"I know that she is coming out here and wanting it just as much as I do," Pentz said. "I've played her a few times and I know anything can happen on any given day, so I really just had to focus."
Thulson will face Peak to Peak's Trini Somasundaram — her sister lost to Rachel Nguyen in the No. 1 singles semifinal — in the championship match at No. 2's.
The strength of Holy Family's team this whole season has been their depth in the doubles. On Wednesday, the Tigers, seeded No. 1 at all four doubles spots, advanced all of their teams to the finals.
The only pseudo scare for coach Brittany Storgaard's Tigers came in the semifinals at No. 4 doubles. The team of Jaelyn Larson and Maren Steiner were extended to three sets by Longmont's Tanna Carson and Natalie Garcia, but prevailed 6-2 in the third.
"We told them at the beginning when we prayed, we said play hard for each other, pray hard for each other and go win some tennis," Storgaard said. "And they've done that.
"Tomorrow we are just going to go leave it on the court and have fun, because its tennis and not anything else."
The play will begin at 7:30 a.m. with a few consolation matches and the championship matches will go at 9 a.m. If there are any playback matches — where the third place finisher didn't have a chance to play the runner-up — those will happen last.
CLASS 4A REGION 5
At South Boulder Tennis Complex
No. 1 singles — Julia Pentz, Niwot def. Elsa Erickson, Silver Creek, 6-1, 6-1; Rachel Nguyen, Standley Lake def. Trisha Somasundaram, 6-4, 7-5.
No. 2 singles — Taylor Thulson, Niwot def. Jessica Herold, Longmont, 6-1, 6-1; Trini Somasundaram, Peak to Peak def. Julia Giltner, Holy Family, 7-5, 6-2.
No. 3 singles — Elly Beyer, Holy Family def. Anjali Gill, Peak to Peak, 6-3, 6-1; Rachel Drake, Niwot def. Allie Blank, Dawson, 6-0, 6-1.
No. 1 doubles — Lindsey Bovine/Paige Giltner, Holy Family def. Emily Powell/Heather Clark, Silver Creek, 6-0, 6-0; Emma Lerner/Amanda Duquette, Niwot def. Kole Lavoy/Dolfin Olsen, Centaurus, 6-0 6-0.
No. 2 doubles — Sophie Mosko/Ciara Donovan, Holy Family def. Eva D'Epagnier/Madi Jayne, Longmont, 6-4, 6-2; Maddie Fagundo/Ellie Beeck, Dawson def. Erin O'Neill/Jewel Ng, Niwot, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
No. 3 doubles — Brianna Bartlett/An Tran, Holy Family def. Rachel Mozdzier/Sarah Maher, Peak to Peak, 6-1, 6-3; Kyra Foote/Melanie Reeves, Longmont def. Quin Ramos/Alexa Rinard, Dawson, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
No. 4 doubles — Jaelyn Larson/Maren Steiner, Holy Family def. Tanna Carson/Natalie Garcia, Longmont, 6-2, 1-6, 6-2; Liv Cramer/Nicole Hilton, Dawson def. Becki Shu/Samie Staudenmayer, Peak to Peak, 6-3, 6-1.