LAFAYETTE — It’s been a soggy August, everyone can agree.
With raindrops large and small wreaking havoc on tennis courts around the entire area since the 2014-15 prep season began, this weekend’s Centaurus Invitational actually represented the first action of the campaign for the Dawson School boys squad.
Apparently, the Mustangs were eager to get back on the court. Fighting off more temperamental weather throughout Friday and Saturday, Dawson School also fended off a majority of its opponents en route to a second-place finish.
Arvada West ran away with the team title by qualifying players to championship matches in all seven positions, but the Mustangs left with six top-three placers — giving coach Kathryn Benninghoff exactly what she wanted to see.
“I’d have to say after this afternoon, I’m really pleased,” Benninghoff said after the team finished with 62 points.
Zach Rinard provided the Mustangs with a championship at No. 3 singles, beating Arvada West’s Jadon Tanguma 6-3, 6-3, and the Mustangs’ No. 3 doubles team of Ben Howson and Gavyn Pure took a forfeit win against Arvada West after earning a second-set tie-break.
But despite it being for third place and not first, the tightest match of the final rounds came between No. 1 singles players Azur Ali (Dawson) and Keller Hartline (Centaurus), who battled to a three-hour marathon that resulted in a good win for one player and a good lesson for the other.
“The grueling match that Azur won, that was extremely well played on both ends and it’s a pity there has to be a loser in a match like that,” Benninghoff said. “It was mental for Azur. It was the other guy having a little bit more of a second gear, or my guy, and I’m really proud of Azur. That was high-level tennis.”
Generally speaking, Ali and Hartline went tit-for-tat in an intense arena. Ali broke Hartline twice in the third set and ran away with the tie-breaker, completing a 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(3) win. Interestingly, a cramp in Ali’s forearm might have contributed to it.
“I noticed around the end of the first set that my slice was giving him problems, especially on the forehand,” Ali said. “I kind of just stopped hitting. My forearm started cramping, too, and to hit that slice was a lot less strenuous on it. This one will give me confidence for the rest of the season.”
“It’s always great to play someone of equal ability … tennis is all about those kind of matches, so it was good,” Hartline said after getting his first taste of high school play for the season, too. “I had a lot of problems hitting back slices. He hit a lot of them, and I had a lot of trouble getting them back. I need to get better at doing that.
“I felt like I moved well. But those cut shots, how low they stayed, I just wasn’t able to pick them up enough.”
Rinard got to watch almost all of the Ali-Hartline match, but when his turn came up, he was ready to go.
He had faced Tanguma in the finals of this same tournament a year ago, losing in three sets. This time was completely different, as the taller Rinard earned a straight-sets victory, 6-3, 6-3.
“Keeping the ball in the court and hitting some nice, solid shots the whole time (helped),” Rinard said. “Consistency really drove me through it. He hit some hard shots, and it’s just being able to get to them and hit a good ball back. We got those first tournament jitters out I think.”
Benninghoff was proud of Howson and Pure, too, as the sophomore and freshman combination showed some moxie — enough to get under the skin of the Arvada West team. The Wildcats coaching staff pulled their team off the court for improper gamesmanship before the third set began.
“I really think we got some momentum after this one,” said Pure. “I think (the team) showed that we have something to bring to the table, and that it will be a really fun season for everyone.”
“We felt really strong and it was fun to get out there,” Howson said.
Centaurus finished fifth with four positions, with those players all falling in the third-place matches, while Peak to Peak placed fourth. The Pumas No. 1 doubles team of Duncan Dunninger and Anthony Xue earned their way to the finals but dropped a second-set tie-breaker against Arvada West.
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At Centaurus HS
Team scores — Arvada West 96, Dawson School 62, D’Evelyn 47, Peak to Peak 16, Centaurus 15, Golden 11, Skyline 7, Wheat Ridge 5.
Singles — 1. Anthony Partrick, Arvada West, def. Tom Hudson, D’Evelyn, 6-4, 6-1*; 2. Andrew Gillette, Arvada West, def. Sam Hoelscher, D’Evelyn, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4*; 3. Zach Rinard, Dawson School, def. Jadon Tanguma, Arvada West, 6-3, 6-3.
Doubles — 1. Michael Partrick/Luis Perez-Marin, Arvada West, def. Duncan Dunninger/Anthony Xue, Peak to Peak, 6-3, 7-6(5); 2. Rady Waters/Jack Troetschel, Arvada West, def., Max McClellan/Skyler D’Apuzzo, Dawson School, 6-3, 6-0; 3. Ben Howson/Gavyn Pure, Dawson School, def. Grant Kochmann/Keegan Pittz, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-0 (forfeit); 4. John Guettlein/Johnny Kleckner, Arvada West, def. Max O’Brien/Josh Hodges, D’Evelyn, 6-1, 6-3.
Local Third-place matches
Singles — 1. Azur Ali, Dawson School, def. Keller Hartline, Centaurus, 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(3); 2. Kyle Taylor, Golden, def. Isaiah Moreno, Centaurus, 6-1, 6-1.
Doubles — 1. Jackson Kegel/Jake Blank, Dawson School, def. Kevin Kalkus/Caleb Sanders, D’Evelyn, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1; 2. Ellis Murray/Nik Geschwitner, D’Evelyn, def. Max Sherman/Adam Fitzsimmons, Peak to Peak, 6-1, 6-2; 3. Connor Maher/Ishan Kumar, D’Evelyn, def. Wilson Hattendorf/Sean Munley, Centaurus, 6-0, 7-5; 4. Justin Schlosser/Zac Worthing, Dawson School, def. Chris Jachimiak/Adam McDonald, Centaurus, 6-2, 6-3.
* — Played indoors due to rain