LOVELAND — There was plenty of drama on hand between the Monarch Coyotes and the Fossil Ridge Sabercats in the finals of the Front Range League tennis tournament in Loveland.
Facing each other in the finals in No. 1 and 2 doubles, Monarch took the first set in each match but lost the second. With tempers coming out on the court and in the crowd, the two teams split their matches with Fossil Ridge winning No. 1 doubles in a tiebreaker and Monarch taking No. 2 doubles.
“We’ve had our ups and downs pretty much the entire season, but finishing it out right is one of the best feelings,” Monarch’s Savannah Cooks said.
Cooks played with her twin sister, Laura, and the two held off a late rally to win the first set 6-4. Their doubles partners in the finals, Ginger Harrington and Emma Lookner, also won their first set in No. 1 doubles 6-2. Each Fossil Ridge team bounced back in the second set to win 6-3, giving each side a break before the final set.
The third sets brought out emotion as Fossil Ridge jumped ahead 5-1 in No. 1 doubles and Monarch led 5-2 in No. 2 doubles. The Cooks saw emotions coming out from their opponents as one of the girls hit a ball in anger back to the duo and hitting one of the players, causing a ruckus in the crowd.
As for the Cooks, it was then that they knew the third set would be theirs.
“We just had to get riled up,” Laura said. “(Fossil Ridge) got a penalty and we got the momentum from it. They got down on themselves and we were getting our first serves and these great overheads in. We were just dominating in that third set.”
The Cooks twins would win the final set 6-2 for Monarch’s lone championship win.
Harrington and Lookner were down in the third set 5-1 in their match but managed to storm back with four straight points to stay alive. The wave of emotions from Fossil Ridge would settle as they responded in the tiebreaker 7-1 to win the final point and the match.
In addition to the two doubles teams, Monarch also sent its No. 3 singles player to the finals on Wednesday. Nina Auer faced Sunny Taylor of Fort Collins and would fall in consecutive matches 6-3, 6-4. Monarch was able to finish third in the team race and was pleased to get three in the finals. The late momentum is something they will look to feed off of entering regionals.
“This gives us a lot more confidence and more preparation for regionals,” Savannah said. “I feel like we’ll have our number for regionals as well. This makes us feel good about ourselves.”
Singles titles for Boulder, Fairview
Fairview and Boulder met back on April 2, but Fairview’s Sophie Pearson did not face Boulder’s Lily Chitambar in the No. 1 singles match. Their collision course against each other came to fruition on Wednesday with Pearson and Chitambar both making the finals the day before.
Pearson used some big shots early to set the tone in the first set to win 6-3. Chitambar did not let the jitters get to her in the match and was able to compose herself in the second set to win 6-4, forcing a final set for the league title.
“I tried to focus on each point and not get too ahead of myself,” Chitambar said. “I tried to stay a little more positive and tried to get one more ball in every time. I just worked on not missing.”
Chitambar would finish strong, winning the third set 6-2 and winning the lone title for Boulder.
“It felt really good,” Chitambar said. “I didn’t really expect to win, so I’m really excited.”
Fairview would leave with a league title in No. 2 singles, though, thanks to Alexis Bernthal. Facing Alyssa Kawakami of Fort Collins, Bernthal jumped out to an early lead in the first set to win 6-2 and held off a comeback effort in the second set to win 6-4.
“There was a little bit of pressure (on me) because I did it as a freshman last year,” Bernthal said of winning a league title. “I think we’re pretty lucky that we have a really good team at the top. We’ll be able to compete in a better way at state.”
Getting two girls in the finals helped Fairview finish fourth in the team standings with 36 points.
Having come close to a state title last year, Bernthal hopes the league title won on Wednesday is a sign of things to come heading into the postseason.
“There is more pressure again, but I think it’s good to have some of that,” Bernthal said. “It’s good for my tennis as a whole. I need to ignore that and can’t focus on that because I’ll get too tight. State is getting closer and my goal for state this year is to win.
The final local match involving an area team came in No. 3 doubles with Lucie Paul and Penny Jensen of Boulder. They would fall in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 to Fossil Ridge and finished fifth in the team standings.
Front Range League tournament
At Loveland High School
Team scores — 1. Fort Collins 55, Fossil Ridge 54, Monarch 42, Fairview 36, Boulder 27, Poudre 13, Rocky Mountain 9, Legacy 9, Loveland 7, Broomfield 3, Greeley West 2, Horizon 1, Mountain Range 0
Singles — 1. Lile Chitambar, Boulder, def. Sophie Pearson, Fairview, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2; 2. Alexis Bernthal, Fairview, def. Alyssa Kawakami, Fort Collins, 6-2, 6-4; 3. Sunny Taylor, Fort Collins, def. Nina Auer, Monarch, 6-3, 6-4.
Doubles — 1. Hannah Preiss/Julia Scimeca, Fossil Ridge, def. Ginger Harrington/Emma Lookner, Monarch, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1); 2. Savannah Cooks/Laura Cooks, Monarch, def. Lily Osius/Gabby Sampaio, Fossil Ridge, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2; 3. Lauren Houldsworth/Tara Toepke, Fossil Ridge, def. Lucie Pual/Penny Jensen, Boulder, 6-4, 6-4; 4. Amanda Barber/Charlotte Ferguson, Fossil Ridge, def. Isabel Cluett/Madelynn Potter, Fort Collins, 6-2, 6-4.