Girls tennis: Alexis Bernthal wins gold, Sophie Pearson runner-up for Fairview

Knights sophomore didn’t lose a set this spring season


DENVER — Fairview sophomore Alexis Bernthal’s road back from losing in the state finals a year ago ended in immaculate style in Class 5A No. 2 singles Saturday afternoon.

Ace teammate Sophie Pearson came one step short of making it a perfect 2 for 2.

Bernthal capped off a dominatingly sweet spring season in which she won every set, quickly beating Chatfield freshman Christine Jevicky 6-3, 6-2 early into the afternoon. An hour and 33 minutes and a weird, 5-minute weather delay later, Smoky Hill’s Valerie Negin finally then ended Pearson’s run, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, in a 1-singles final that lasted 3 hours.

Longtime coach Susan Stensrud strolled between the Gates Tennis Center’s two showcase courts, leaving Bernthal with a celebratory hug on one end, before consoling Pearson a while later on the other. In her 15 seasons, she said it was the first time her program had players in the 1 and 2 singles finals in the same season.

“I was thrilled to come here with a practically brand-new team this year, and for us to end up in the No. 1 and 2 singles finals — we’ve never done that before,” she said.

Cherry Creek won its 36th team title, dominating the tournament with 74 points. Chatfield was second with 41, followed by Fossil Ridge at 33, and then Fairview, with Bernthal and Pearson combining for all of the Knights’ 30 points.

On one end, Bernthal redeemed last year’s finals loss to Cherry Creek’s Eliza Hill, a result she took with her going forward. Hill’s calm demeanor had left a mark with Bernthal, who said she tried to exude the same qualities against state newbie Jevicky.

“(Hill) knew how to play the mental game really well against me,” Bernthal said. “So, this year I wanted to shadow that because I knew I had this experience already.”

Bernthal forced match point in the 17th game when Jevicky hit the net, then ended it with an ace that the freshman Charger couldn’t quite track down. Now, with Pearson off to play at the University of California-San Diego, and a game on the rise, Bernthal hopes to pick back up in No. 1 singles next spring.

“I want to see what I can do with it,” she said.

Pearson’s road ended a bit sour. The senior fought through a tough bracket, which included a long, second-round victory over Boulder’s Lily Chitambar Friday, followed by a semifinals win over Arapahoe’s Julia Rydel Saturday morning.

Her coach was quick to note how deep the No. 1 singles bracket was this season — “the deepest I’ve ever seen at this tournament,” she said. She also reminded Pearson of how instrumental her career has been to the Knights’ program, which included a No. 3 singles title as a freshman that clinched Fairview’s first team championship in program history and ended Cherry Creek’s 19-year run.

“I told her ‘that was an even bigger win,’” Stensrud said. “’You won the team championship.’

Of course, “everyone’s disappointed to lose,” the coach added. “She’s disappointed, but we’re proud of her.”

Elsewhere, Monarch’s No. 2 doubles Laura Cook/Savannah Cook took third. Chitambar finished fourth in No. 1 singles.