DENVER — It's hard to get a good read on Fairview freshman Seraphin Castelino.
Her demeanor on the court never changes whether things are going good or bad. And on Friday morning at Gates Tennis Center in the semifinals of the Class 5A state tournament at No. 1 singles, it was that level-headed approach that served her well.
After dropping the first set to Mountain Vista junior Casey Zhong in a tiebreaker, Castelino got on a roll in the final two sets and cruised into the Saturday morning's championship with a 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-1 victory.
"Seraphin is like a freight train, she is a little slow getting going, but once she is going, she doesn't stop," said Fairview coach Susan Stensrud, whose team holds their championship fate in their own hands tomorrow. "It has been her trend this whole season and she is firm believer in conservation of energy, so she doesn't go all out, she is smart in how she plays.
"She takes the opportunity to put balls away when it makes the most sense."
The most crucial game of the deciding third set was the first. Castelino fought off two break points and ripped a big forehand winner to seize the momentum.
Zhong, who had beaten Castelino in their two previous non-high school meetings, doubled faulted away the second game and Zhong's body language went from bad to worse.
"It was a battle, and I'm tired," said Castelino, whose brother Ignatius won the No. 1 singles title in the fall for the Fairview boys. "I could see that she was getting tired, but I didn't know she was cramping. The game plan was simply to make her move."
Castelino will get a Front Range League rematch against Poudre's Ky Ecton in the finals. Ecton dispatched of Cherry Creek's Gloria Son 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. On April 14, Castelino beat Ecton 6-4, 6-3.
"I'll try to stay relaxed tomorrow and not get too tense," Castelino said. "I feel good about it."
So too should fellow freshman Sophie Pearson at No. 3 singles. She has made it look fairly easy on Day 1 and on Friday made quick work of Heritage's Lauren Thomas in the semifinals, winning 6-1, 6-0.
"I was expecting that match to be a lot tougher because the last time I played her I was down 1-4 in the second set," said Pearson, who will play a huge championship match against Cherry Creek freshman Sayuri Garud on Saturday at 9 a.m.
The only other Knights finalist will be at No. 4 doubles. The team of Clare Lupo and Denali Pinto got all they could handle from the Ralston Valley tandem of Gabby Gordon and Sam Baker 6-4, 6-4.
The Knights will carry a 58-56 lead into Saturday's final day over the 19-time defending state champions from Cherry Creek. Fairview will also have three spots playing for third place, including Natalie Munson at No. 2 singles.
CLASS 5A STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Gates Tennis Center
Team scores — Fairview 58, Cherry Creek 56, Mountain Vista 37, Poudre 29, Heritage 19, Denver East 18, Fossil Ridge 15, Ponderosa 15, Chatfield 13, Arapahoe 12, Regis Jesuit 4, Grandview 3, Ralston Valley 3, Rock Canyon 3, Mountain Range 3, Grand Junction 2, Legend 2, Lakewood 2, Fruita Monument 1, Central (G.J.) 1, ThunderRidge 1.
No. 1 singles — Ky Ecton, Poudre def. Gloria Son, Cherry Creek, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4; Seraphin Castelino, Fairview def. Casey Zhong, Mountain Vista, 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-1.
No. 2 singles — Alessia Fabiano, Poudre def. Natalie Munson, Fairview, 6-2, 6-0; Micha Handler, Cherry Creek def. Kendra Lavallee, Mountain Vista, 6-0, 6-3.
No. 3 singles — Sophie Pearson, Fairview def. Lauren Thomas, Heritage, 6-1, 6-0; Sayuri Garud, Cherry Creek def. Madi Allen, Mountain Vista, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
No. 1 doubles — Sydney Waite/Hunter Barker, Ponderosa def. Phoebe Mackenzie/Hanna Fernley, Cherry Creek, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4; Natalie Sloboth/Elizabeth Palmer, Arapahoe def. Emma Houghton/Erica Wiley, Fossil Ridge, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (5).
No. 2 doubles — Jenna Alvarez/Kendall Moore, Chatfield def. Bianca Urness/Maddie Darre, Denver East, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-0; Allison Murphy/Emily Wilkens, Cherry Creek def. Angie Cai/Julia Combs, Fairview, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (2).
No. 3 doubles — Erinn Hogan/Lindsey Noble, Fossil Ridge def. Rachael Reed/Lauren Cherrey, Chatfield, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5; Kate Wulf/Kelly Wulf, Denver East def. Haley Weinstein/Kylie Feliciano, Fairview, 6-3, 6-3.
No. 4 doubles — Clare Lupo/Denali Pinto, Fairview def. Gabby Gordon/Sam Baker, Ralston Valley, 6-4, 6-4; Hunter Ernest/Hannah Smith, Mountain Vista def. Wendy Yan/Grace Shepard, Cherry Creek, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
Area playback matches
No. 2 singles — Munson, Fairview def. Haley Hildenbrand, Legend, 6-1, 6-3.
No. 3 singles — Isabel Manzanares, Grand Junction def. Madison Risi, Monarch, 6-1, 6-0.
No. 1 doubles — Carolyn Roberts/Ellie Savage, Fairview def. Jackie Bodwin/Erin Daniel, Rock Canyon, 6-2, 7-6 (6); Roberts/Savage, Fairview def. Houghton/Wiley, Fossil Ridge, 6-4, 6-1.
No. 2 doubles — Cai/Combs, Fairview def. Olivia Brohl/Ila Farhang, Grandview, 6-1, 6-2.
No. 3 doubles — Olivia Woods/Libby Stroup, Heritage def. Weinstein/Feliciano, Fairview, 6-0, 6-2.