Girls tennis: Niwot’s Mulshine tops Dawson’s Bell on Day 1 of 4A state tournament

  • Chris McLean/Pueblo Chieftain

    Alexander Dawson's Fiona Bell competes at the 4A state tennis tournament on Thursday in a first-round loss to Niwot's Erin Mulshine.

  • Chris McLean/Pueblo Chieftain

    Erin Mulshine fires a return in a first-round victory over Dawson's Fiona Bell on Thursday afternoon at the Class 4A state tennis tournament.

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PUEBLO — Even veteran players get the jitters.

In her second trip to the No. 1 singles state tournament bracket, Niwot junior Erin Mulshine surprised herself with how nervous she was before her first-round match against Alexander Dawson’s Fiona Bell.

Veteran players get the jitters, too. They just get over them.

Mulshine overcame her butterflies to beat the Mustangs sophomore, who was making her first state singles appearance, 6-2, 6-1 and advance into the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

“I was mostly nervous because I’d never played her before,” Mulshine said. “Once I kind of settled down and relaxed, I started playing well. I started playing my own game and everything worked out.”

Mulshine faces a tough test in top-seeded Kalyssa Hall in the quarterfinals Friday morning.

“I’m just going to try to play my best and have fun,” Mulshine said.

The Cougars’ No. 3 doubles pair, junior Annika Jarvinen and senior Kaitlyn Skinner, drew the familiar Valor Christian duo in the first round. The Valor No. 3 doubles were the Cougars’ first opponents this season. They will not be their last.

Jarvinen and Skinner won 6-2, 6-3 for their second win against the pair and a berth to the quarterfinals.

“I think we were able to handle them a lot better this time around,” Jarvinen said. “It was just a lot of having to go scrape the ball when it came over. It was hard to keep a rally going so it was more about just trying to end the points quicker.”

Skinner said she and Jarvinen had to change strategies to ward off a comeback in the second set. Once they started focusing on their serves, they cruised to the win.

Thursday’s win kept the Cougars duo undefeated in its first season together.

“It’s gone great,” Skinner said. “We worked on control. Once we got that, we’ve got the attitude to go with it. We come out strong.”

Also for the Cougars, Maura Derr and Izzy Stafford made quarterfinals at No. 1 doubles, as did Alicia DiScipio and Janie Sieben at No. 4 doubles. Jami Albert and Lauren Richards lost 6-4, 7-5 to Pueblo West.

The Cougars, who qualified their entire ladder for state, found misfortune in the other singles brackets. At No. 2, Meagan Londa fell to Mullen’s Stephanie Graziano 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 and Gillian Hyde was disqualified after missing her match’s start time returning from an IB exam.

Play will resume with quarterfinals at 9 a.m. Friday.

Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi