Girls tennis: Young Boulder team looking to win big at state

Panthers to compete in four of seven brackets

Lewis Geyer/Staff Photographer
Boulder’s Lily Chitambar prepares to serve during her No. 1 singles match during the Front Range League Tournament.

The late spring snowstorm that hit Colorado this week comes at a bad time for the young tennis team from Boulder that is set to compete in the Class 5A state tournament in Denver. If the girls who are going to the tournament have access to a private tennis court, they are able to get some extra work in. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of showing up Friday in Denver and getting it done.

“They are all fighters,” Boulder tennis coach Elizabeth Korevaar said. “They want to do well and are having fun with it.”

Boulder will be looking to improve from last year when they qualified their entire team for state and finished 16th in the team standings. While they will only be competing in four of the seven brackets this year, Korevaar and the team are hoping for more wins and deeper runs at state this year.

“It’s just that we have more than before,” Korevaar said. “We have a strong team and I have some amazing coaches.”

The team is young with three freshmen, two sophomores and one junior making the trip to Denver. Returning with previous state experience are three doubles players in Sally Johnson, Mahima Gurung and Lucie Paul. Johnson moved up to No. 2 doubles while Gurung moved down to the same slot for their pairing this year. Paul joins freshman Penny Jensen in No. 3 doubles.

As for singles, it is all freshmen with Lily Chitambar playing in No. 1 singles and Lila Travis competing in No. 3 singles.

“I think we’re hoping for the best,” Korevaar said. “We have some young players that are going. We want them to enjoy the experience and to be the best we can be.”

Despite their youth, there are some high expectations Boulder has put on themselves. It starts with Chitambar, who will enter the week as the No. 1 seed in the top singles bracket. She is 6-0 since taking over as the top singles player and finished in first place at the regional tournament. She faces another underclassman in the first round in Ellie Sowitch of Fossil Ridge. A win there may lead to a rematch with Fairview’s Sophie Pearson, who she defeated in the Front Range League tournament during the regular season.

The rest of the team had to battle their way to qualify for the state tournament. Travis made the finals in the No. 3 singles bracket at regionals and lost, as did Johnson and Gurung in No. 2 doubles and Paul and Jensen in No. 3 doubles. In all three brackets, Boulder had to play a playback match with a spot at state on the line and were able to win and move on.

Those battles at regionals are something Korevaar hopes to see her team build on for state as they face their toughest competition this season.

“You go into every match the same way, whether you have two matches or one on the same day,” Korevaar said. “It will be cold Friday and that’s not what their used to at this time. Usually the girls are in shorts and trying to stay out of the sun. They’ll need to keep their energy up in this weather. Everybody is going through the same thing.”

All three state tennis tournaments switched to a two-day format earlier this week to avoid the snow and wet conditions. All first round and quarterfinal matches will be played Friday and matches on Saturday will include playbacks, semifinal and championship matches.