• Brad Cochi / BoCoPreps.com

    Niwot's Lucy Lu, who was the BoCoPreps.com player of the year in 2018, returns and gives the Cougars a shot at a Class 4A state title.

  • Autumn Parry / Daily Camera

    A former state champion, Fairview's Sophie Pearson returns to the high school scene after taking this past season to play for a tennis academy.

  • Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Dawson School's Bridget Bell

  • Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Peak to Peak's Tiffany Tran

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20 PLAYERS TO KNOW

Aria Barbour, Jr., Dawson School: She reached the quarterfinals in No. 2 singles a year ago and should be an important piece to Dawson’s run at a title this season.

Bridget Bell, Jr., Dawson School: The team’s No. 1 player a year ago fell in the first round of the 3A state tournament. A year deeper into her career could spell a deeper run this year.

Alexis Bernthal, So., Fairview: Bernthal, the Knights’ No. 2 singles player last season, didn’t drop a set through the semifinals at the 5A state tournament. She bowed out in the finals.

Grace Geer, Sr., Boulder: Geer qualified in No. 2 singles in 5A last year, but lost her first match.

Alexis Gilio, So., Dawson School: She won her first-round match at the 3A state tournament before falling to the eventual state champ, D’Evelyn’s Elisa Dean, in the quarterfinals.

Melissa Hornung, Jr, Boulder: Qualified at the No. 3 singles position in 5A last year.

Allyson Horvath, Sr., Broomfield: With a last name fit for the same page as Boulder’s Hornung — see above — Horvath also qualified at the No. 3 singles position in 5A last year. Of course, the two won’t have a chance to confuse regional and state bracket writers because the Eagles are moving to 4A.

Gigi Jensen, Jr., Boulder: Boulder’s top two players Grace Geer and Gigi — the double Gs — hope to lead the Panthers back at state. Jensen qualified for the 5A state tournament in No. 1 singles last year.

Jessica Kelley, Sr., Frederick: Kelley and Chasen Marinoff, a couple of history-makers, became the first players from Frederick to qualify for state in tennis.

Lexie Licata, Sr., Holy Family: She won the state title in No. 1 doubles last year and should be in the singles mix this year for the Tigers.

Lucy Lu, So., Niwot: Fresh off her state title, Lu has been playing in national circuits over the offseason.

Chasen Marinoff, Sr., Frederick: Make the T-shirts now: “Chasen state dreams”. Marinoff is looking to go back to the big dance once again after qualifying in No. 1 singles last year.

Taylor Merz, Sr., Longmont: Merz ran all the way to the 4A semifinals in No. 3 singles last season and finished fourth.

Rebecca Pavot, Jr., Longmont: Pavot had a sensational season in No. 1 singles play, but it came to a somewhat abrupt stop with a two-set loss to Cheyenne Mountain’s Morgan Hall in the opening round of the state tournament.

Sophie Pearson, Sr., Fairview: Pearson, the 2016 Class 5A state champ at No. 3 singles, missed part of 2017 with an injury and played at a tennis academy last year. But she is back for her senior year.

Trisha Somasundaram, Sr., Peak to Peak: She won the No. 1 singles title in 3A.

Trini Somasundaram, Sr., Peak to Peak: A minute before her sister, she wrapped up the No. 2 singles title in 3A. Here, here, for a little sibling competition.

Tiffany Tran, So., Peak to Peak: She fell in a three-set thriller in the No. 3 singles semifinals and should make another deep run this year.

Amber Weston, Jr., Longmont: Weston, like Pavot, was bounced in the first round of the state tournament last year. She fell in three sets to Kent Denver’s Amanda Schlatter.

Marina Youngdahl, So., Monarch: Youngdahl lost in the 5A No. 2 singles quarterfinals a year ago before rallying for three straight victories in playbacks to take third.

POSTSEASON INFORMATION

5A Regionals — Regional placement will be determined by league finish. The Class 5A Front Range League — which includes area schools in Boulder, Fairview, Legacy and Monarch — is eligible to have two teams host a region.

4A Region 4 — Local teams: Mead. Host: Greeley West.

4A Region 5 — Local teams: Niwot, Broomfield, Centaurus, Erie, Longmont, Silver Creek, Skyline. Host: Niwot.

3A Region 2 — Local teams: Holy Family. Host: Holy Family.

3A Region 3 — Local teams: Justice, Prospect Ridge. Host: D’Evelyn.

3A Region 5 — Local teams: Dawson School, Frederick, Peak to Peak. Host: Dawson School.

5A state tournament — May 9-11 at Gates Tennis Center in Denver.

4A state tournament — May 9-11 at Pueblo City Park.

3A state tournament — May 9-11 at Centennial Park in Greeley

 

TEAM-BY-TEAM OUTLOOK

BOULDER PANTHERS

Coach: Elizabeth Korevaar (fifth season).

Last season: Qualified the entire team to the 5A state tournament, where they finished 16th.

Returning state qualifiers: Gigi Jensen (Jr., No.1 singles); Grace Geer (Sr., No. 2 singles); Mahima Gurung (So., No. 1 doubles); Emily Paul (Sr., No. 2 doubles); Keeva Donohue (Sr., No. 2 doubles); Fiona Quinn (Sr., No. 3 doubles); Sally Johnson (Jr., No. 3 doubles); Lucie Paul (So., No. 4 doubles).

Others to watch: Lila Travis (Fr.); Lily Chitambar (Fr.); Penny Jensen.

Outlook: The Panthers graduated just one player from last season’s all-hands-on-deck trip to the state tournament. “As strong as we were last season,” Korevaar said, “I expect us to do even better this season.” Color Boulder excited.

 

BROOMFIELD EAGLES

Coach: Tom Russ (first season)

Last season: Tied for 18th at the Class 5A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Allyson Horvath (Sr., No. 3 singles); Ellie Penner (Sr., No. 2 doubles); Meghan Roylance (Sr., No. 2 doubles); Danielle Latimer (Jr., No. 3 doubles).

Outlook: Russ is taking over for the Eagles, who were moved down to 4A this season. The Eagles are “young”, the first-season coach said, who pointed to losing seven varsity players from last season. Gone are former Nos. 1 and 2 singles players Katie Herby and Ana Horvath as well as five 2018 doubles players.

 

CENTAURUS WARRIORS

Coach: Julie Daniel (third season)

Last season: Did not qualify for the state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Elli D’Oronzio (Sr.); Maria Alvarez (Sr.); Jenny Ornelas (Sr.); Emma Pirillo (Sr.); Arely Aguirre (Sr.).

Outlook: Daniel said several players are returning as the Warriors are looking to take another step forward. The team attends an annual summer camp put on by Alan and Chad Tsuda from Rich’s Tennis School. Daniel said the experience “further develops our players’ fundamentals and tennis mindset.”

 

DAWSON SCHOOL MUSTANGS

Coach: Kathy Benninghoff (11th season)

Last season: Finished as a co-league champion, won regional and finished fourth at the 3A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Bridget Bell (Jr., No. 1 singles); Aria Barbour (Jr., No. 2 singles); Alexis Gilio (So., No. 3 singles); Eloise Shehan (So., No. 3 doubles); Victoria Joris (Jr., No. 3 doubles); Sarah Devereux (Sr., No. 4 doubles); Julia Garfinkel (Sr., No. 4 doubles).

Others to watch: Sofia Veraza (Jr.); Paige Howenstein (So.).

Outlook: The outlook is “promising”, according to the 11th-season coach. “Dawson’s returning starters are hardy, disciplined and fast,” Benninghoff said. “These players look forward to adding newcomers to the team and helping to instill pride and a hunger for victory. We should be in the hunt for the state title.”

 

ERIE TIGERS

Coach: Eric Farran (first season)

Last season: Finished second at regionals.

Returning state qualifiers: Karis Moore (Sr., No. 1 doubles); Jennifer Williams (Jr., No. 4 doubles); Shaunessy Wolak (Jr., No. 4 doubles).

Outlook: A new coach. New aspirations. Said Farran: “In my first season with a new group of athletes, I plan to build a program based on strong technical skills and knowledge of the game I love. We have many young players, but we are determined to raise the bar and add to the athletic achievements of Erie.”

 

FAIRVIEW KNIGHTS

Coach: Susan Stensrud (15th season)

Last season: Finished third in league, second at regionals and fifth at the Class 5A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Alexis Bernthal (So., No. 2 singles); Joy Ma (Jr., No. 2 doubles); Lilian Ma (So.).

Others to watch: Sophie Pearson (Sr.); Cassie Harper (Sr.); Ana Swanson (Jr.).

Outlook: The Knights will be led by top players Pearson and Bernthal, both of whom have state tournament experience. As for who’s behind them? Stensrud said more than 105 girls are on the team this season.

 

FREDERICK WARRIORS

Coach: Mark Allen (second season)

Last season: Finished sixth in league and fourth at regionals.

Returning state qualifiers: Chasen Marinoff (Sr., No. 1 singles); Jessica Kelley (Sr., No. 2 singles).

Others to watch: Nicole Lees (Sr.); Kendall McCarron (Sr.).

Outlook: The Warriors, who won six duals last season after winning only five in the previous three seasons, return a large contingent from a team that turned out to be the program’s largest in history. “The girls are hungry to prove to everyone in our league, region, and state that we are a force,” Allen said.

 

HOLY FAMILY TIGERS

Coach: Brittany Storgaard (seventh season)

Last season: Finished first at regionals and third at the Class 3A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Lexi Licata (Sr., No. 1 doubles); Lindsey Bartoletta (So., No. 2 doubles); Caroline Smolky (Sr., No. 3 doubles); Grace Coster (Sr., No. 4 doubles); Emily Lindoerfer (So., No. 3 doubles).

Outlook: Third place at state last season and looking for more. Said Storgaard: “We have a young, but competitive team that is looking to continue to achieve more and more at the state level. Our senior captains have great leadership and our freshmen and sophomore newcomers have the drive, so we’re eager to put it all together and come out on top.”

 

LEGACY LIGHTNING

Coach: Laura Zlogar (first season)

Last season: Finished fifth at regionals and did not qualify for state.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Leila Daoud (Sr.); Jordan Korb (Jr.).

Outlook: The Lightning had more than 50 girls try out for the team this season. Said first-season coach Zlogar: “We are committed, reborn and refocused. The girls are looking forward to competing with the best teams in the league.”

 

LONGMONT TROJANS

Coach: Mike Merz (15th season)

Last season: Finished second at regionals and tied for ninth at the 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Rebecca Pavot (Jr., No. 1 singles); Amber Weston (Jr., No. 2 singles); Taylor Merz (Sr., No. 3 singles); Tanna Carson (Sr., No. 2 doubles); Anna McConahy (Sr., No. 3 doubles); Jesse Bartel (Jr., No. 4 doubles); Kallie Westmoreland (Sr., No. 4 doubles).

Outlook: The Trojans are hoping to send their entire team back to the state tournament for the third straight season. Pavot, Weston and Merz all return after leading the team in singles play.

 

MEAD MAVERICKS

Coach: Ben Holskin (third season)

Last season: Finished third at regionals.

Returning state qualifiers: Kylie Zanini (So., No. 3 doubles); Campbell Smith (So, No. 3 doubles).

Others to watch: Jill Cowley (Jr); Mackailee Longobricco (Fr.).

Outlook: Holskin expects about half of his varsity lineup will be filled in with new faces after graduating a large group of seniors from last season. The good news: “Many of these underclassmen were competing closely for varsity spots last season,” Holskin said. “So, we expect them to step up and make a difference right away this season.” The coach said a good goal for the team is to qualify two singles players and two doubles teams to the state tournament.

 

MONARCH COYOTES

Coach: Jennifer Dixon (first season)

Last season: Finished third at regionals and tied for 11th at the 5A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Ginger Harrington (Jr., No. 1 doubles); Emma Lookner (Jr., No. 1 doubles); Marina Youngdahl (So., No. 2 singles).

Outlook: The Coyotes come into the season after winning seven of their nine dual meets from last season. They also come in with a new coach, Dixon, who will inherit quite a bit of talent from last season including Youngdahl — a No. 2 singles player who finished third at state.

 

NIWOT COUGARS

Coach: Aimee Keronen (sixth season)

Last season: Won the Class 4A state title.

Returning state qualifiers: Lucy Lu (So., No. 1 singles); Rachel Drake (Sr., No. 1 doubles); Tehnley White (Jr., No. 1 doubles); Maedee Trank-Greene (Jr., No. 3 doubles); Catherine Xiao (Jr., No. 3 doubles); Annie Heinritz (Jr., No. 4 doubles); Lily Sieben (Jr., No. 2 doubles); Emily Creek (So., No. 4 doubles).

Others to watch: Anna Sallee (Fr.); Georgia Lang (Fr.).

Outlook: The Cougars return six state champions from their 4A title run, including Lu, who didn’t lose a set in the tournament and beat Kent Denver’s Josie Schaffer 7-6, 6-2 in the finale. Lily Sieben (No. 2), Maedee Trank-Greene (No. 3), Catherine Xiao (No.3), Emily Creek (No. 4) and Annie Heinritz (No. 4) also return for the Cougars after winning state titles in doubles play. Overall, the Cougars should once again be strong contenders to win the 4A title.

 

PEAK TO PEAK PUMAS

Coach: Eric Carlson (first season)

Last season: Won the Class 3A state title.

Returning state qualifiers: Trisha Somasundaram (Sr., No. 1 singles); Trini Somasundaram (Sr., No. 2 singles); Tiffany Tran (So., No. 3 singles); Paige McSavaney (Jr., No. 1 doubles); Renesa Khanna (So., No. 1 doubles); Naomi Burns (Sr., No. 2 doubles); Isabella Brakhage (So., No. 3 doubles); Madison Lin (So., No. 3 doubles); Paige Burns (Jr., No. 4 doubles).

Outlook: The Pumas won the state title on the strength of wins by the Somasundaram twins in the No. 1 and 2 singles spots. And the twins are back. And so are seven other state qualifiers.

 

PROSPECT RIDGE MINERS

Coach: Ari Finkelstein (third season)

Last season: Finished fifth at regionals.

Returning state qualifiers: Aly Miller (Sr., No. 2 singles); Danielle Dukes (Jr., No. 3 doubles); Kayda Kreutzer (Jr., No. 3 doubles).

Others to watch: Kate Diamond (Sr.); Sofia Ochoa (Jr.).

Outlook: The Miners are entering their third varsity season and are hoping to finish with their first winning record as a program. Finkelstein added that he hopes the team can send more qualifiers to the state tournament than the three players who went last season.

 

SILVER CREEK RAPTORS

Coach: Beth Cerrone (third season)

Last season: Finished fourth in league and fourth at regionals.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Lily Stewart (Sr.); Olivia Nelsen (So.).

Outlook: Nelsen returns after winning seven of her nine dual matches in No. 2 doubles, per MaxPreps. Stewart is back after a nice run in No. 3 singles. Overall, the Raptors are young but Cerrone believes she has the quality of players to take the next step as a program.

 

SKYLINE FALCONS

Coach: Phil Astras (third season)

Last season: Finished fifth at regionals.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Shelby Roberts (Sr.) Ashley Kastler (So.).

Outlook: Said Astras: “A good offseason of practice and play has us excited for the new season. We have a nice combination of seniors and sophomores that should provide experience and leadership as the season progresses.”

Brent W. New: bwnew@prairiemountainmedia.com and @brentwnew