GREELEY — A dominant first day in the 4A Region 4 tournament on Friday put the Dawson Mustangs well in front of the rest of the field for the team title. They would also qualify for the championship match in all seven brackets, one win away from an automatic bid to state.
Dawson returned to Centennial Park on Saturday for the finals and secured the team title by qualifying all three singles players and three of four doubles pairs for state.
“It’s great to see,” Dawson’s Riley Burridge said. “There’s been a lot of improvement team-wide. We have a lot of young kids, I think four or five freshmen on the team, and it’s great to see them grit and grind away to get to the finals.”
Burridge, the top seed in the No. 1 singles bracket, continued his dominant run in 2019 with a 6-0, 6-1 win in the championship match versus Yuto West of Riverdale Ridge. The senior had big serves and returns that never allowed West to get into a rhythm as he won easily for the title.
“I rely on my kick serve,” Burridge said. “I try to place that and get my opponent off balance with it. That way, I can get a few easier ground strokes than normal. That gets my ground strokes in tune for when I’m returning the ball.”
Kevin Patel joined Burridge in winning a regional title in singles play with arguably the most exciting match of the finals in No. 2 singles. Facing Brody Kasprzak of Thompson Valley, he dropped the first set 6-2 but got back on track in the second set to win a tiebreaker and force a third set. Patel would ride the momentum into the third set and win 6-3 for the title.
Dawson also won big in doubles play with three regional champions. Tyler Burridge and Coby Grant-Krenz were the first doubles pair to punch a spot at state in their No. 1 doubles match, winning a tiebreaker in the first set and then dominating the second 6-1 against a Silver Creek team they lost to twice this year.
“We’ve lost to this team in two close third sets during the regular season,” Tyler Burridge said. “We were hungry and we wanted to win. We got the job done and it feels great.”
Dawson Santangelo and Ashtin Gilio won 6-1, 6-3 over Riverdale Ridge in No. 2 doubles championship and Ethan Duster and Ryan Orris overcame a loss in the first set to Silver Creek by rallying off a pair of 6-1 wins in the second and third sets in No. 3 doubles to join Burridge and Grant-Krenz at state.
Phil Geraghty became the final qualifier for Dawson in No. 3 singles, needing to win a playback match over Silver Creek’s Kyle Williams 6-2, 6-1. The No. 4 doubles pair of Alfie Whitemore and Owen Leidich lost in the championship match to Silver Creek and then lost a playback match to Thompson Valley.
A strong showing and having most of the team qualified for state has the Mustangs looking to make more noise in Pueblo next week for state.
“The goal is to win state. We’re out for the title,” Grant-Krenz said. “We know we can get it done.”
Silver Creek qualifies three doubles pairs
The Silver Creek Raptors were playing for a regional championship in three brackets and for third place in three others to begin the day on Saturday. In the end, the Raptors won a championship match and a playback match as they qualified three doubles pairs to state.
Winning their lone championship match was Phil Belous and Luke Graboski in No. 4 doubles as they defeated Whitemore and Leidich of Dawson. Silver Creek held on in a tight first set to win 7-5 and held off a comeback attempt in the second to win 6-3.
“We really forced (Dawson) into tougher shots,” Belous said. “We didn’t just hit the ball right to them. We made sure they had to hit it back in a hard way, so that made it an easier shot to finish it.”
In No. 2 doubles, Caden Kerr and Dominique Kranjovic lost to Dawson in the finals but did not need to win a playback match, so their spot was secure.
Things were not as easy for the No. 1 doubles pair of Alex Amparan and Roberto Esteban Vera to secure their spot for state. Their day started in the championship match versus Dawson and losing in straight sets. With Thompson Vallley winning the third-place match, those two teams would need to play a match to determine the final spot for state. The start of the playback match was rough as Thompson Valley won 6-0 and looked to be in control.
Instead of rolling over, Amparan and Vera rose to the challenge and won the second set 6-2. The big comeback win saw a huge momentum swing that continued in the third set with Silver Creek winning 6-1 to advance to state.
Doubles play has been a strength this season for Silver Creek and was on display in the regional tournament.
“What we’ve got going for us is our communication,” Graboski said. “Other teams are really good, but I think that’s what separates us. We talk to each other and make sure that everyone is in the right place.”