PUEBLO — Taylor Thulson's quarterfinal match against Cheyenne Mountain's Morgan Hall was the perfect representation of Niwot's first day at the Class 4A girls state tennis tournament.
She battled. She played at a championship level.
She fell in the third set.
The Cougars were full of fight all day, but they dropped five matches in three sets. It was a very frustrating day overall for a team that coach Aimee Keronen thought had a chance to battle for a top-three finish.
"It was one of those days," Keronen said. "We had so many opportunities to be in every semifinal match. There was not one loss that was two sets, even. Each one was three sets."
The Cougars ended up advancing two spots into Friday's semifinals at Pueblo City Park.
Julia Pentz beat Durango's Maggie Hackett 6-2 6-1 in No. 2 singles and the No. 2 doubles team of Amanda Duquette and Erin O'Neill advanced with a win of Grace Hawkey and Isabel Haifleigh from Kent Denver.
"State is every different from any other thing," Pentz said. "You can play a ton of matches and say you're prepared, but nothing beats the feeling."
Sometimes that can be a bad thing, but at times in can play into the underdog's favor. Take Thulson and Hall. The two had met during the regular season and Hall came away with an easy win in straight sets.
There was no reason that the result wouldn't be the same.
But Thulson came away with a 6-3 win in set one and suddenly the mentality on both sides had changed.
"I was so happy that I played the way I did," Thulson said. "I was determined to go out, do my best and my all and do what I could to win."
Unfortunately, the conditioning is what got the better of her. She had Hall tied at five games apiece in the third set and even had a 40-love lead, but Hall fought back to break Thulson's serve. She then held her own to get the win as fatigue set in for the Niwot junior.
"I just need to train even harder and work on my fitness," she said. "I got pretty tired in the third set."
Niwot wasn't alone in having a tough day as Longmont failed to get a single player or duo into out of the first round.
Freshman Amber Weston nearly pulled out her match against Thompson Valley's Maddie Sheets. They split the first two sets, but it was Sheets who came away with a 7-5 win in the third.
The Trojans lose only three seniors heading into next year and their three singles players are all underclassmen. For them it was great to get their feet wet at the event.
"The best part has been to always have teammates there to support you and watch your matches," freshman Rebecca Pavot said.
The Trojans can get every position except for No. 1 and No. 2 singles back in the tournament via the playback brackets.
Those will be determined at the conclusion of Friday's semifinal rounds which begin play at 9 a.m.
Class 4A state tournament
Pueblo City Park
No. 1 singles — Maddie Kuntzelman (Discovery Canyon) def. Rebecca Pavot6-1 6-4.
No. 2 singles — Maddie Sheets (Thompson Valley) def. Amber Weston 6-0 3-6 7-5.
No. 3 singles — Maeve Kearny (Kent Denver) def. Taylor Merz 6-0 6-0.
No. 1 doubles — Tiffany Parobek/Lucie Hosse (Valor Christian) def. Eva D'Epagnier/Madi Jayne 6-2 6-2.
No. 2 doubles — Ciara Bobak/Bali Fitzpatrick (Palmer Ridge) def. Tanna Carson/Felicia Archuleta 6-0 6-4.
No. 3 doubles — Sam Chavez/Marguerite Keegan (Valor Christian) def. Andi Aker/Trista Woelfle 6-3 6-2.
No. 4 doubles — Avery Warburton/Mary Hertel (Valor Christian) def. Jesse Bartel/Yasmine Culbertson 6-2 6-0
No. 1 singles — TalyorThulson def. Cori Campbell (Air Academy) 7-6 6-3; Morgan Hall (Cheyenne Mountain) def. Thulson3-6 6-3 7-5.
No. 2 singles — Julia Pentz def. Anastasia Outekhine (Golden) 6-1 6-0; Pentzdef. Maggie Hackett (Durango) 6-2 6-1.
No. 3 singles — Emma Kerr (Palmer Ridge) def. Rachel Drake 0-6 7-6 6-3.
No. 1 doubles — Jewel Ng/Tehnley White def. Timber Alley/Anna Griffin (Coronado) 6-3 6-2; Tiffany Parobek/Lucie Hosse (Valor Christian) def. Ng/White 6-7 6-0 6-2.
No. 2 doubles — Amanda Duquette/Erin O'Neill def. Dominique Fresquez/Julia DellaSalle (Mullen) 6-2 1-6 6-4; Duquette/O'Neill def. Grace Hawkey/Isabel Haifleigh (Kent Denver) 7-5 7-5.
No. 3 doubles — Ruby DeCora/Emma Jaber (Durango) def. Lily Sieben/Avery O'Neill 7-5 4-6 7-6.
No. 4 doubles — Emilie-Anne Choi/Lucy Pratt (Kent Denver) def. MadeeTrank-Greene/Yui Ishikawa 5-7 7-6 6-3