Tim Hurst/Staff Photographer
LAFAYETTE — A little more than two weeks away from a chance to qualify for the state tournament, a boys tennis season which practically just started continues hyperspeed ahead.
At Centaurus, Julie Daniel’s program has balanced a brisk and strange fall schedule as best as possible. With 31 players on roster, the coach continues her mission to develop skills of all levels.
Albeit this year, it feels like a scramble.
“When it’s this quick, you just go,” said Daniel, who pointed to regionals scheduled start in just 15 days. “You do some challenge matches to sort some things out, but you really just start competing.”
And so far, the Warriors have flourished on the run.
Against Skyline Tuesday, a cloudless sky was met by a fourth dual win in four tries for the program.
Quinn Lew beat the Falcons’ James Wongsudin in No. 1 singles 6-0, 7-6, improving to 4-0 in 2020 duals. Carter Hunter-Crump followed with a 6-3, 6-3 win at the No. 2 spot and three of the Warriors’ four doubles pairings won as well.
The focus afterward was growth over outcome.
“I really like my second serve right now,” said Lew, who’s known to study up on his opponents before every match. “But I can’t give away any return points. The last couple games there I was missing returns into the net.”
Next for Lew will be a monumental test in state-podium hopeful Henry Matheson as Centaurus hosts Longmont Thursday. And soon after that, the Warriors and Trojans — along with Skyline — will be among the 11 teams at 4A Region 5 vying to squeeze out a state berth in a tournament historically dominated by powerhouse Niwot.
“We’re playing for second place,” Daniel said. “There’s only two positions that go to state and they’ve brought in more teams to our already talent-laden region.”
An uphill climb. Sure. But it won’t deter.
“I’m not trying to think about qualifying for state, because if I worry about that, I won’t play as good,” said Lew, who finished fourth at regionals last year. “That being said, I’m more confident with my game. I’m more confident hitting it harder. But with (Niwot’s) Neil (Wilcox) and (Longmont’s) Henry (Matheson) in the region, I know it’s going to be hard to qualify for state.”
Skyline dropped to 3-2 in duals, but new coach Tom Galey was only optimistic when talking about the direction of the program.
“We’re looking great,” said Galey, who took over for Phil Astras this fall. “We’re feeling really fortunate that we can play. And we had a nice run-up in the summer when we practiced when we could. And we’re feeling great. It’s been a winning season so far.”
Drake Doran won in two sets at No. 3 singles for the Falcons, who also took No. 2 doubles.
And despite falling at No. 1, Wongsudin, the only player at the dual who went to state last year, continued to impress in his move from 3-singles in 2019 to team ace.
He was swept in the first set against Lew but battled to tiebreaker in the second.
“I had to work extra hard this year,” Wongsudin grinned. “Much harder than last year.”
Per the school’s schedule, Centaurus has only three duals remaining before regionals. Skyline has four.