Brad Cochi/ BoCoPreps.com
Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer
The Niwot girls tennis team’s dominance in regional tournaments stretches so far back that coach Aimee Keronen couldn’t recall a time the Cougars didn’t win it.
She thought maybe 14 or 15 years ago.
“I know we have (won it) the last 10 years, back to 2008 at least,” she said.
However many, the reigning state champs have a good chance to make it plus-one at the conclusion of next week’s regional tournament — and more importantly, get everybody through to defend their state crown in Pueblo in two weeks.
“Just got to keep everybody clicking through the next couple of weeks,” said Keronen, whose team will host Class 4A Region 5 Wednesday and Thursday at the Longmont Recreation Center.
The Cougars have been as good as they appeared on paper prior to the season with six returning state champs and eight 2018 state qualifiers.
Solid from No. 1 singles player Lucy Lu on down, the Cougars went undefeated in dual matches over the season.
Lu has been a wrecking ball after not losing a set last year as a freshman at the state tournament. Tehnley White and Rachel Drake have transitioned nicely into the No. 2 and 3 singles roles following the duo’s time together in No. 1 doubles in 2018. And other champs Emily Creek, Catherine Xiao, Lily Sieben, Maedee Trank-Greene and Annie Heinritz headline a staunch doubles field that also includes freshmen Georgia Lang and Anna Sallee, who haven’t lost as No. 3 partners.
“Last year losing Julia (Pentz) and Taylor (Thulson) at 2 and 3 singles hurt, but this team has stepped it up,” Keronen said. “We’re deeper than we have been, which is really good because we won state at the 2, 3 and 4 doubles last year, and I feel like we are even stronger at those positions this year. This team is definitely one to be reckoned with.”
The other teams in the region include newcomer Broomfield — which moved down to 4A this season — along with Centaurus, Erie, Longmont, Silver Creek, Skyline and Standley Lake. The eight teams are tied for the most in a single region in Class 4A or 5A, which means it has more players than most regions vying for the 14 qualifying spots.
“And those regions don’t include teams of Niwot’s caliber,” Centaurus coach Julie Daniel pointed out.
“My No. 1 singles player is a junior who started tennis her freshman year, beat her teammates in challenge matches and has worked hard,” Daniel said. “Niwot’s No. 1 is a sophomore who has been playing year-round since she was little, won the 4A title last year as a freshman, and is ranked nationally in the top 50. It’s apples to oranges for sure. That’s high school tennis. Control what you can control and try and improve your tennis whenever you take the court.”
Holy Family will also host, in charge of 3A Region 2 at Broomfield Swim and Tennis Center and the Community Park Wednesday. As will Dawson, which is ahead of 3A Region 5 at Dawson and Frederick High Schools Thursday and includes other area teams Frederick and Peak to Peak.
Class 5A’s regional fields were determined by league order, and after the Front Range League tournament played through on Wednesday, Monarch settled in as the highest-seeded area team. The Coyotes were pitted in Region 7 hosted by Chatfield, while Fairview is at Cherry Creek (Region 1) and Boulder is at Rock Canyon’s Region 6. Legacy fell into Region 4 hosted by FRL foe Fossil Ridge.
Other teams to keep an eye on — Mead in Class 4A Region 4 up in Greeley, and Prospect Ridge in 3A Region 3, hosted by D’Evelyn.
Brent W. New: firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @brentwnew
Girls tennis regional tournament schedule
To be completed by May 4
Region 1 (Hosted by Cherry Creek): May 1-2, at Cherry Creek HS. Local team is Fairview.
Region 4 (Fossil Ridge): TBD. Local team is Legacy.
Region 6 (Rock Canyon): May 1-2, at Colorado Athletic Club-Monaco. Local team is Boulder.
Region 7 (Chatfield): May 1-2, at Ken Caryl Ranch. Local team is Monarch
Region 4 (Greeley West): May 1-2, at Centennial Park. Local team is Mead
Region 5 (Niwot): May 1-2, at Longmont Recreation Center. Local teams are Niwot, Broomfield, Centaurus, Erie, Longmont, Silver Creek and Skyline.
Region 2 (Holy Family): May 1, at Community Park/Broomfield Swim and Tennis Center. Holy Family is the only local school.
Region 3 (D’Evelyn): May 1-2, at Dakota Ridge High School. Local team is Prospect Ridge Academy.
Region 5 (Dawson School): May 2 at Dawson School and Frederick High School. Local teams are Dawson, Frederick and Peak to Peak.