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Girls tennis: Boulder’s Chen upsets Li in rivalry loss to Fairview

  • Boulder's Annie Chenn winds up for a backhand during her...

    Henry Huettel/Courtesy photo

    Boulder's Annie Chenn winds up for a backhand during her No. 1 singles match with Fairview's Katie Li on Thursday. Chen won the match 6-4, 7-5 at Centennial Middle in School in Boulder.

  • Fairview's Katie Li serves against Boulder's Annie Chen on Thursday.

    Henry Huettel/Courtesy photo

    Fairview's Katie Li serves against Boulder's Annie Chen on Thursday.

  • Boulder's Annie Chen comes up with a high return against...

    Henry Huettel/Courtesy photo

    Boulder's Annie Chen comes up with a high return against Fairview's Katie Li on Thursday at Centennial Park in Boulder.



BOULDER — Family friends and No. 1 singles players hopeful to make it to the state tournament, Fairview’s Katie Li and Boulder’s Annie Chen met for the first time as cross-town rivals on Thursday.

At Centennial Middle School, Chen, a freshman newcomer off to a 6-3 start, defeated Li, a three-time No. 3 singles state champion with a 3-2 record in her first season at the No. 1 spot. The momentum changed hands repeatedly and the freshman came out on top 6-4, 7-5.

“Katie’s a good family friend and she’s obviously an amazing player,” Chen said. “It was a really good match and I thought I played really well. I felt like I was playing my game and I was consistent. I took advantage of the short balls and took a few risks and they paid off.”

After Chen won the first set 6-4, Li took an early 3-0 lead in the second. But Chen’s consistent style won out against the more aggressive Li, who began to make uncharacteristic mistakes as the match wore on.

With the Boulder showdown already lasting 2 ½ hours, Chen said she was afraid the match would go to a third set.

“I don’t think I had control of the match at any time because it was back-and-forth,” Chen said. “She came back and was playing great, too, but I just stuck with my game and I was playing my best tennis today.”

Chen snatched a good win just in time for the Front Range League tournament at Loveland High School next Wednesday. For Li, the loss was disappointing but she said she is still enjoying the challenge of playing through the gauntlet at No. 1 singles.

“She came out really strong and I think that today she was a better player,” Li said. “It’s been really great because there are so many good players at each school. It’s a really good mental challenge to know that every match is going to be a really good player and I have to try my best at every point. It’s been really enjoyable.”

Picking up a second rare win for the Panthers against the Knights, junior Jamie Young edged Knights senior Hannah Embree 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

While the Panthers were happy with Chen’s and Young’s victories, the Knights took the dual easily, winning five of the seven matches to improve to 7-2 on the season. The Panthers dropped to 4-8.

The Knights won at No. 2 singles, where sophomore Natalie Munson defeated junior Savannah Hornung 6-0, 6-1. Taking their lumps in the singles matches, the Knights pairs swept the doubles contests.

At No. 1 doubles, Knights Jackie Schmeideler and Anastasiya Nicol defeated Hanna Davis and Gwen Lohmann, 7-6(7-5), 6-1. At No. 2, Laura Jamison and Angela Cai beat Emily Sinner and Halonah Abraham Paiss, 6-0, 6-4.

In the third doubles match, Kat Lane and Ellie Lupo defeated Flora Quinby and Ellie Johnson, 6-2, 6-1. In the fourth spot, Skylar Caledonia and Ellie Savage bested Gretchen Bach and Solina Kennedy, 6-2, 6-0.

“We just came in to have fun and swing because they’re the favorite,” first-year Panthers head coach Jill Lintukorpi said. “We didn’t expect to win this dual but I felt like we played as well as we could play.”

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Fairview 5, Boulder 2

At Centennial Middle School

Singles — 1. Annie Chen, Boulder, def. Katie Li, Fairview, 6-4, 7-5; 2. Natalie Munson, Fairview, def. Savannah Hornung, Boulder, 6-0, 6-1; 3. Jamie Young, Boulder, def. Hannah Embree, Fairview, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Doubles — 1. Schmeideler/Nicol, Fairview, def. Davis/Lohmann, Boulder, 7-6(7-5), 6-1; 2. Jamison/Cai, Fairview, def. Sinner/Abraham Paiss, Boulder, 6-0, 6-4; 3. Lane/Lupo, Fairview, def. Quinby/Johnson, Boulder, 6-2, 6-1; 4. Caledonia/Savage, Fairview, def. Bach/Kennedy, Boulder, 6-2, 6-0.