PLAYERS TO KNOW

Cutter Esson, Sr., Boulder: After placing third at No. 3 singles as a junior, Esson's success as a senior figures to play a major role in Boulder's quest to move up in the 5A team rankings.

Allen Fu, Sr., Niwot: As a junior last season, he reached the 4A state semifinals and eventually claimed fourth place at No. 2 singles.

Jackson Hawk, Sr., Boulder: He reached the 5A semifinals at No. 2 singles last season and is preparing for a repeat performance in his senior season.

Sam Karlson, Sr., Legacy: Serving as a state tournament No. 3 singles alternate last season, the Lightning senior is eager to solidify a spot on the big stage.

Connor Larson, So., Dawson School: The fifth-place No. 2 singles finisher at last year's 4A state tournament, the Mustangs are expecting bigger things out of Larson in his sophomore campaign.

Alec Leddon, Sr., Fairview: The defending 5A No. 3 singles champ is back and anxious for a chance to move up the ladder and see what kind of run he can make in his final season.

Kap Smith, So., Boulder: It will be interesting to see how the Panthers' top player will follow the 5A No. 1 singles semifinals appearance he posted as a freshman in 2014.

Zhan Su, Sr., Peak to Peak: Probably talented enough to make a splash at the 4A state tournament, the Pumas' ace is hoping this is the year he can make it out of a log-jammed Region 5 tournament.

Derek Wright, Sr., Monarch: Fifth in Class 5A at No. 1 singles last season, Wright is already riding a hot streak that includes a Denver City Open junior title this summer.

Grant Wood, Sr., Broomfield: He cracked the No. 2 singles podium at last year's state tournament and will be looking for a similar finish as a senior.

 

POSTSEASON INFORMATION

5A Regionals — Will be determined by order of finish in league play. (Note: The top two teams in the Front Range League - including Boulder, Broomfield, Fairview, Legacy, Monarch — will be eligible to host or designate host sites for regional tournaments.)

4A Region 5 — Local teams: Dawson School, Centaurus, Erie, Frederick, Longmont, Niwot, Peak to Peak, Silver Creek, Skyline. Date/location: TBD at Niwot.

Class 5A state tournament — Oct. 15-17 at Gates Tennis Center in Denver.

Class 4A state tournament — Oct. 15-17 at Pueblo City Park.

 

TEAM-BY-TEAM OUTLOOK

BOULDER PANTHERS

Coach: Doug Kazarosian (1st year)

Last year: Fourth at 5A state tournament

Returning state qualifiers: Cutter Esson (Sr.), Henry Hawk (So.), Jackson Hawk (Sr.), Cole Smith (Sr.), Kap Smith (So.).

Others to watch: Ethan Katz (Jr.), Everett Martin (So.).

Outlook: Doug Kazarosian, who came over from Broomfield to coach Boulder this season, says the Panthers are bigger, stronger and faster than last year. Considering they took fourth at state in 2014, that's definitely good news for a group that returns three state semifinalists — Kap Smith, Jackson Hawk and Cutter Esson — at the singles positions.

 

BROOMFIELD EAGLES

Coach: John Long (1st year)

Last year: Tied for 13th at 5A state tournament

Returning state qualifiers: Coby Babcock (Sr.), Caleb Penner (Sr.), Grant Wood (Sr.).

Others to watch: Simon Lupo (Jr.), Spencer Wolff (Jr.).

Outlook: Under new head coach (and former Broomfield athletic director) John Long, the Eagles expect depth to be their strength as a strong class of incoming freshmen joins the team. Also returning all three singles players from last season, there is no reason to think the Eagles won't be able to at least match last season's success in their second year in Class 5A.

 

CENTAURUS WARRIORS

Coach: Julie Daniel (5th year)

Last year: Sixth at regionals

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Michael Daniel (Sr.), Justin Krawetz (Sr.).

Outlook: This year's lineup will be young since the Warriors graduated half of their squad last year. Head coach Julie Daniel said the younger players will rely on the leadership of captains Michael Daniel and Justin Krawetz and that the team is looking to its own Centaurus Invite (Aug. 28-29) as a benchmark for how the Warriors will stack up in their tough region.

 

DAWSON MUSTANGS

Coach: Kathryn Benninghoff (9th year)

Last year: Tied for ninth at 4A state tournament

Returning state qualifiers: Seth Clemente (Jr.), Skyler D'Apuzzo (Sr.), Ben Howson (Jr.), Jackson Kegel (Sr.), Connor Larson (So.), Cade McClellan (Jr.), Max McClellan (Sr.), Gavyn Pure (So.).

Others to watch: Carter Holbrook (Fr.), Finn Jones (So.), Ryan Otto (Jr.).

Outlook: After falling just one ladder rung short last season, Dawson's goal is to qualify all 11 players for the 4A state tournament in 2015. They believe they have the depth and proficiency at all seven spots in their lineup to accomplish their goal and expect to be feisty and resilient come tournament time.

 

ERIE TIGERS

Coach: Paul Drake (1st year)

Last year: Eighth at regionals

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Fischer Moore (So.), Zach Rees (So.), Taylor Wagner (So.).

Outlook: Still a relatively new program, Erie will have a young lineup this season that will feature numerous freshmen and sophomores. Australian coach Paul Drake joins the program in 2015 and will lead the team in what he hopes will be another progressive campaign.

 

FREDERICK WARRIORS

Coach: Mark Allen (2nd year)

Last year: 10th at regionals

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Carter Goodard (Jr.), Kyle Lee (Jr.), Bobby Lucas (Jr.), Luis Osorio-Lopez (Jr.).

Outlook: Last year, most of the players who came out for Frederick's inaugural season with a boys tennis program had never before picked up a racquet but this year's preseason camp had a different feel to it. The Warriors are still working on filling out their lineup but expect to be much improved from last season.

 

FAIRVIEW KNIGHTS

Coach: Chad Tsuda (8th year)

Last year: Second at 5A state tournament

Returning state qualifiers: Graham Blanco (Jr.), Spencer Clauson (Sr.), Devin Harper (Jr.), Alec Leddon (Sr.), Tom Melville (So.), Brooks Savage (So.), Ethan Schacht (So.).

Others to watch: Kevin Ball (Sr.), Adam Chehadi (So.), Jimmy Kasic (Sr.), Aaron Nguyen (So.), David Zhao (Jr.).

Outlook: Despite graduating two of last year's three 5A singles state champions and battling some preseason injuries, Fairview is looking strong again in 2015. Last year's state runner-up will have to rely on its younger players stepping into new roles and are looking forward to seeing what they can do.

 

LEGACY LIGHTNING

Coach: Alan Godman (9th year)

Last year: Fourth at regionals

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Jordan Boucher (Jr.), Logan DiLullo (Sr.), Sam Karlson (Sr.), Greg Nixon (Jr.), Parker Steen (Sr.).

Outlook: The goal this season is for the Lightning to finish in the top half of the Front Range League, finish at least second at regionals, and to qualify half of the team for state. The team is building for the 2016 season when it expects to send its entire lineup to the state tournament and this year is an important step in that process.

 

LONGMONT TROJANS

Coach: Michael Merz (8th year)

Last year: Fifth at regionals

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Brendan Arndt (Fr.), Chris Fryberger (Jr.), Luke Johnson (So.), Calvin Seamon (Fr.).

Outlook: After a fourth-place regional finish in 2014, the Longmont Trojans don't return a single senior tennis player to start the 2015 campaign. With that in mind, the team's goal is to improve and hopefully position itself as a dark horse squad by regional tournament time.

 

MONARCH COYOTES

Coach: Duke Paluch (1st year) and Noah Sussman (1st year)

Last year: Ninth at 5A state tournament

Returning state qualifiers: Jack Ferry (Jr.), Christian Glass (So.), Reed Harrington (Sr.), Jack Lacy (Sr.), Keegan McNamara (Sr.), Nicolas Rodero (Sr.), Derek Wright (Sr.).

Others to watch: Justin Fristensky (Jr.), Logan Fristensky (Jr.), Michael Harris (Jr.), Thomas Paluch (Jr.).

Outlook: Coming off a big regional title and a ninth-place finish at the 5A state tournament, Monarch returns its top seven players from last year's run. Now under the guidance of co-head coaches Duke Paluch and Noah Sussman, the Coyotes should be able to build on the success they had in 2014.

 

NIWOT COUGARS

Coach: Miikka Keronen (11th year)

Last year: Third at 4A state tournament

Returning state qualifiers: Matthew Chavez (Jr.), Allen Fu (Sr.), Peter Graham (Jr.), Max Petrak (Sr.).

Others to watch: Riley Black (Fr.), Riley Mulshine (Fr.), Manas Saini (Fr.), Cam Weckerly (Fr.).

Outlook: This season marks the first in a half decade that the Cougars lineup won't be led by a player with the surname Lang who is a favorite to win a state title. The Cougars have a history of filling in with top singles players and will likely be competing for yet another top 10 finish at the 4A state tournament in 2015.

 

PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS

Coach: Eric Farran (2nd year)

Last year: Fourth at regionals

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Brett Finan (Fr.), Zhan Su (Sr.).

Outlook: In head coach Eric Farran's second year at the helm, the Pumas are looking to improve on last season's fourth-place finish in the tough Region 5. The region might also be open enough this year for the Pumas' top players like Zhan Su to break through to the state tournament.

 

SILVER CREEK RAPTORS

Coach: Kelly Burns (7th year)

Last year: Third at regionals

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Jake Fuhrman (Jr.), Jefferey Meier (Sr.), Michael Nagus (Jr.), Jarod Nielson (So.), Jake Nielson (Sr.), Jacob Stringer (Jr.).

Outlook: After losing two returning varsity players to injury, Silver Creek has adopted a "next man up" philosophy for the upcoming season. With a solid group returning from last year's team, head coach Kelly Burns said the Raptors will compete as best they can in the nightmarish 4A Region 5, which includes several of 4A's top teams.

 

SKYLINE FALCONS

Coach: Andrew Largo (1st year)

Last year: Seventh at regionals

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Nathaniel Allen (Jr.), Jarod Balentine (Jr.).

Outlook: Skyline's team remains almost completely intact from last year since the Falcons didn't graduate any seniors in 2014. Still, the program might be several years away from qualifying a player for the state tournament. Andrew Largo, who has served as an assistant coach for the past three years, will take over as head coach.

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