PUEBLO — Despite not having the top-tier firepower Colorado’s other perennial contenders have, the Niwot High School girls tennis team still set its sight high in 2014.
With a top-four finish at the 4A state tournament as the goal, the Cougars knew it would take contributions from up and down the ladder to reach it.
That’s what they got.
“Everyone played well and top four is the best we’ve done in a while,” Cougars senior No. 2 singles player Meagan Londa said. “We wanted to do better than we did last year and we did. We were going for top for and we even gave ourselves a chance to finish higher. Fourth was good for us.”
The Cougars finished fourth with 42 team points. That’s the highest the Cougars, who took seventh place last season, have finished since winning the state title in 2008.
Cheyenne Mountain, which has now won the past six team titles since the Cougars’ last championship, took first with 80 points. St. Mary’s Academy placed second with 53 and Kent Denver took third with 50.
At No. 1 doubles, senior Lauren Richards and junior Maura Derr led the Cougars with 11 team points. The Cougars pair went 3-1, reaching the championship match before losing 6-4, 6-4 to Cheyenne Mountain’s Ally Arenson and Casey Ahrendsen.
The other Cougars lineup spot to reach the championship match was No. 4 doubles juniors Frauke Aumann and Geya Kairamkonda. This Cougars’ duo came within a several strokes of a title before falling 1-6, 6-1, 7-5 to St. Mary’s Academy’s Julia Chowdhury and Kate Melberg.
“It was an awesome match,” said Aumann, an exchange student from Germany. “We were great in the first set, we made lots of mistakes in the second set and in the third set, they just played better.”
Kairamkonda added, “It was a great season. We’re proud of ourselves.”
The only Cougars to win on the state tournament’s final day, Nonie Ziel and Emma Lerner defeated Eaton’s Emily Harper and Courtney Leafgren 6-2, 6-0 to take third place at No. 3 doubles.
Despite their brackets’ lower-weighting scoring, the Cougars doubles pairs combined to score 26 of their team’s points.
“That shows that we’re deep,” Cougars head coach Aimee Irwin said. “We wanted to get fourth and we reached the goal. We had a lot of scrappy players that fought hard and we won a lot of matches we weren’t expected to win. They all carried each other at times and worked together throughout the season. They’re just fighters.”
Londa placed fourth at No. 2 singles and scored nine team points. She fell in the third-place match to St. Mary’s Academy’s Suzy Xiao, 6-2, 6-0.
Playing her first season at No. 3 singles, Cougars junior Jami Albert also placed fourth and scored seven team points, losing 6-0, 6-0 to Cheyenne Mountain’s Jessica Metz.
“This was an awesome season,” Irwin said. “Best season I’ve had, for sure.”
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Class 4A state tournament
Pueblo City Park
Team scores — Cheyenne Mountain 80, St. Mary’s 51, Kent Denver 50, Niwot 42, Pueblo West 25, Valor Christian 24, Eaton 22, Air Academy 7, D’Evelyn 7, Mullen 4, Centaurus 4, Holy Family 2, Discovery Canyon 2, Montrose 1, Pueblo South 1, Steamboat Springs 1, Windsor 1, Alexander Dawson 1, Colorado Academy 1, Fountain Valley 1.
No. 1 singles — Kalyssa Hall, Cheyenne Mountain, def. Alex Weil, St. Mary’s 6-3, 7-6 (2)
No. 2 singles — Delaney Nalen, Kent Denver def. Daniella Adamczyk, Cheyenne Mountain 6-3, 6-3
No. 3 singles — Caitie McCarthy, Pueblo West, def. Maeve Kearney, Kent Denver, 7-6 (4), 6-3
No. 1 Doubles — Casey Ahrendsen-Ally Arenson, Cheyenne Mountain def. Lauren Richards-Maura Derr, Niwot, 6-4, 6-3
No. 2 Doubles — Tory Louis-Claire Dibble, Cheyenne Mountain,, def. Jisyasa Sharma-Rachel Haas, St. Mary’s 6-1, 2-6, 6-1
No. 3 Doubles — Megan Dibble-Chelsey Geisz, Cheyenne Mountain, def. Tempel Haifleigh-Lily Rogers-Masamori, 6-4, 6-2
No. 4 Doubles — Kate Melberg-Julia Chowdhury, St. Mary’s def. Frauke Aumann-Geya Kairamkonda, Niwot, 1-6, 6-1, 7-5.
No. 1 singles — Alex Middleton, Valor Christian, def. Sara Schoenbeck, Pueblo West, 6-2, 6-0
No. 2 singles — Suzy Xiao, St. Mary’s def. Meagan Londa, Niwot 6-2, 6-0.
No. 3 singles — Jessica Metz, Cheyenne Mountain, def. Jami Albert, Niwot, 6-0, 6-0
No. 1 Doubles — Cathryn Harper-Maddy Shelton def. Elizabeth Smedley-Rachel Prokupek, Kent Denver, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
No. 2 Doubles — Hayley Miller-Karen Sigg, Eaton, def. Olivia Dansky-Sophia Hsaio, Kent Denver 6-3, 6-7 (6)
No. 3 Doubles — Nonie Ziel-Emma Lerner, Niwot, def. Emily Harper-Cortney Leafgren, Eaton, 6-2, 6-0
No. 4 Doubles — Julia Oblack-Maggie Hime, D’Evelyn def. Emilie Benedict-Jackie Pettet, Valor Christian, 7-6 (2), 6-4.