PUEBLO — Niwot’s Allen Fu has had a pretty good run already in his young prep tennis career and he’s steadily climbing the ranks among Class 4A’s top singles players.
On Saturday at Pueblo City Park, the Cougars sophomore reached a new personal pinnacle when he ascended the No. 2 singles podium to the second-place position.
“I worked and trained really hard this year and I only lost a couple matches,” Fu said. “I was looking pretty sharp here at the state tournament. My teammates and my coaches were all helping me and it turned out to be a great state tournament for me. I didn’t lose many matches in 4A so it was a good year.”
After finishing fourth at No. 3 singles his freshman season in 2012, Fu’s latest accomplishment was a testament to how much he has improved over the last 12 months.
Fu cruised through the first three rounds on Thursday and Friday without dropping a set. The only Cougars player still alive in an individual state title hunt on Saturday, Fu lost 6-3, 6-3 to Kent Denver’s Willie Gold in the championship match.
“I was playing well in a few games but he was just better than me today,” Fu said.
Fu accounted for 13 of the Cougars’ 50 team points, which landed them in third-place. They finished four points behind Colorado Academy and well back of runaway team champion Kent Denver’s 91 team points.
Having started the tournament undefeated through Thursday, all the Cougars but Fu stumbled in the semifinals on Friday. Losing a trio of three-set semifinals, the Cougars couldn’t keep pace without the production from the tournament’s most heavily-weighted team scoring round.
“We were kind of disappointed because we were second last year and we expected to be first this year,” Fu said. “It didn’t turn out the way we wanted but that’s tennis. We’re losing a lot of seniors like Drew Pasma but it should be good since there are some good freshmen coming in. I know I’m going to do my best to improve my game. We’ll try to do better next year.”
Fu thanked No. 1 singles teammate Spencer Lang for helping him improve both mentally and physically throughout the season.
From the beginning of the season, Lang figured to be the Cougars’ best chance at winning an individual title. But in the semifinals he lost to Kent Denver’s David Mitchell, who lost to Discovery Canyon’s Luke Lorenz in the No. 1 singles championship.
Venting some frustration from Friday’s loss, Lang rolled Colorado Academy’s Fletcher Kerr 6-1, 6-1 to take third. Lang’s older brother Harrison Lang, last year’s No. 1 singles champion who now plays at Creighton, was there to watch.
“I definitely didn’t want to let down,” Lang said. “I didn’t want to look back on it and regret not giving it my all in the third-place match. I learned that anything can happen, especially at one singles where everyone is so even. It’s all about who shows up, plays their game and is tough mentally. I lost in the semifinals but it was awesome to have Harrison here cheering for me because I don’t see him a lot.”
Pasma took fourth at No. 3 singles to round out his prep career, losing 6-3, 6-2 to Colorado Academy’s Mac Mease in the third-place match.
At No. 1 doubles, Cougars Satvik Saini and Carter Pentz came from behind to defeat Cheyenne Mountain’s Colt Sessions and Aidan Connaughton 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 and claim third-place.
Overall, head coach Miikka Keronen said the 2013 state tournament was a good one for the Cougars. It was their fifth consecutive top-three finish after taking third in 2009 and finishing runners-up to Cheyenne Mountain each of the previous three seasons.
“We had a dream season and Thursday may have been too good of a day,” Keronen said. “We didn’t lose anything and we may have been a little bit on cloud nine, including myself and (assistant coach) Aimee Irwin. We had a real rough Friday and it hurts right now. But finishing third will look good next week and that’s not bad.
“Everybody scored points at state, which doesn’t happen that often. We all learned from it, even as a coaching staff, and the players who are coming back will remember it.”
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Class 4A state tennis championship
At Pueblo City Park
Team scores — Kent Denver 91, Colorado Academy 54, Niwot 50, Cheyenne Mountain 25, Mullen 21, Air Academy 18, Aspen 17, Discovery Canyon 17, Pueblo Central 13, Broomfield 5, Valor Christian 4, Durango 3, Silver Creek 2, Steamboat 2, D’Evelyn 2, Fountain Valley 1, Greeley Central 1, Longmont 1, Palmer-Ridge 1.
No. 1 singles — Luke Lorenz, Discovery Canyon, def. David Mitchell, Kent Denver, 7-5, 6-4.
No. 2 singles — Willie Gold, Kent Denver, def. Allen Fu, Niwot, 6-3, 6-3.
No. 3 singles — Casey Ross, Kent Denver, def. Naish Gaubatz, Air Academy, 6-0, 6-0.
No. 1 doubles — Kevin Adams/Ryan Beyer, Kent Denver, def. Griffin Prall/William McDermid, Colorado Academy, 6-1, 6-3.
No. 2 doubles — Daniel Dilzell/Seth Miller, Colorado Academy, def. Josh Rubin/Niko Hereford, Kent Denver, 6-4, 6-4.
No. 3 doubles — Andrew Thompson/Blake Parsons, Kent Denver, def. Peter Hillary/Ethan Pollock, Colorado Academy, 6-1, 6-4.
No. 4 doubles — Brad Soderberg/Jack Trueblood, def. Keegan Mehall/Andy Vernier, Aspen, 6-3, 6-0.
No. 1 singles — Spencer Lang, Niwot, def. Fletcher Kerr, Colorado Academy, 6-1, 6-1.
No. 2 singles — Dakota Burns, Pueblo Central, def. Robbi Boe, Cheyenne Mountain, 7-5, 6-3.
No. 3 singles — Mac Mease, Colorado Academy, def. Drew Pasma, Niwot, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 1 doubles — Satvik Saini/Carter Pentz, Niwot, def. Colt Sessions/Aidan Connaughton, Cheyenne Mountain, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
No. 2 doubles — Jack Erdle/Mitch Erdle, Mullen, def. Blaine Wuertz/Jake Thornally, Air Academy, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 3 doubles — Alex Reagan/Grant Goodman, Aspen, def. Ryan Ruppert/Will Moody, Cheyenne Mountain, 6-0, 6-4.
No. 4 doubles — Jared Bougain/Mark Manta, Mullen, def. Connor Adams/Jack Clancy, Cheyenne Mountain, 6-2, 6-3.