Girls tennis: Shen rolling along for Fairview at No. 1 singles

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Fairview’s No. 1 singles player Amber Shen returns a shot during her victory Wednesday against Niwot’s Julia Pentz.


NIWOT — Get used to hearing the name Amber Shen.

The Fairview freshman No. 1 singles player has all the weapons, from lethal ground strokes she can strike from both sides, a blistering first serve and, most importantly, a level head on her shoulders.

She’s only 14-years old.

“She an incredibly sophisticated player for such a young player, but it will also be nice to see her play some tougher kids,” said Knights coach Susan Stensrud, whose freshman stayed unbeaten this season on Wednesday with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Niwot’s Julia Pentz.

“She’s got an excellent all-around game and a solid mental game as well. She is very patient.”

Already considered a four-star recruit according to the Tennis Recruiting Network and a top-five ranked player for her age group in the Intermountain region, Shen is adapting well to the team environment that is high school tennis.

“It’s been a lot of fun thus far,” she said. “And you have to work together to win.”

Fairview, which will play three matches in three days — including Thursday’s Front Range League battle against Broomfield — beat Niwot 5-2 on Wednesday behind a singles sweep.

Shen, despite already being very well known throughout the state, is keeping her goals simple and just earning a trip to the Class 5A state met at Gates Tennis Center would be a feather in the cap.

“It would be really great to win state, but I know Kalyssa Hall at Cherry Creek is really good,” said Shen, who has never played a match against the Bruins’ star.

The Knights’ power in the singles was on full display against Niwot. Fairview’s No. 2, Natalie Munson, rolled in straight sets over Taylor Thulson, 6-0, 6-4.

Things took a little longer at No. 3 singles. Fairview sophomore Angela Cai outlasted Jami Albert 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

“It was definitely tiring and I really wasn’t playing my best, but it was more of a mental game and I thought if she was going to be consistent, then I would match her,” Cai said. “If their strategies change, then you should change with them.”

Fairview was also victorious at No. 2 and 3 doubles. The Knights duo of Ellie Savage and Carolyn Roberts, who finished as the state runner-up at No. 4 doubles last season, rolled to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Niwot’s Janie Sieban and Emma Lerner.

Sarah Sharpe and Skylar Caledonia continued their winning ways at No. 3 with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Sophie Williams and Amanda Duquette.

The amount of matches this week doesn’t at all faze Stensrud, who is still in the process of completing a ladder — something that becomes a little trickier with nearly 120 girls out.

“It helps decide who has got he chops to make varsity,” she said. “We are pretty much set through No. 3 doubles after their performances the last two days.”

Niwot salvaged a pair of three-set victories at No. 1 and 4 doubles. After dropping the first set, Maura Derr and Izzy Stafford rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Jackie Schmiedeler and Nastiya Nicol at No. 1.

Erin O’Neil and Katie Ziel, with daylight fading, defeated Caralynn Jamison and Rachel Heilbronner 6-7 (6), 6-2, 13-11.

“I was surprised at how well our doubles played today, which was awesome, because Cheyenne (Mountain) was kind of an awakening for us because they are solid from top to bottom,” Niwot coach Aimee Irwin said. “We worked a lot on doubles this last week in practice and it showed today.”

After playing against Northridge on Tuesday, the Cougars still have duals this week against Centaurus on Thursday and Pueblo West on Saturday.

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Fairview 5, Niwot 2

At Niwot HS

Singles — 1. Amber Shen, Fairview def. Julia Pentz, 6-0, 6-1; 2. Natalie Munson, Fairview def. Taylor Thulson, 6-0, 6-4; 3. Angela Cai, Fairview def. Jami Albert, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Doubles — 1. Maura Derr/Izzy Stafford, Niwot def. Jackie Schmiedeler/Nastiya Nicol, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2; 2. Ellie Savage/Carolyn Roberts, Fairview def. Janie Sieban/Emma Lerner, 6-2, 6-2; 3. Sarah Sharpe/Skylar Caledonia, Fairview def. Sophie Williams/Amanda Duquette, 6-2, 6-0; 4. Erin O’Neil/Katie Ziel, Niwot def. Caralynn Jamison/Rachel Heilbronner, 6-7 (6), 6-2, 13-11.