School is out — or perhaps, more precisely, is offline — but the prep girls tennis season is just now preparing for its final tests.
The first sport out of the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Season D to transition to the postseason, girls tennis now moves into regional play this week as players look to qualify for a spot at the state tournament.
Among local programs, 18 are expected to participate across nine region tournaments. Four teams — Fairview, Niwot, Holy Family and Dawson — are slated to host.
As has been the case for all high school sports in the state with the COVID-19 pandemic, things will tread a little different this year.
The biggest change at the girls tennis regionals is no state playbacks. Usually a player or pairing, who’d been previously eliminated in the bracket, can face the runner-up if they hadn’t played earlier in the tournament. The winner would get the final state spot.
This year, however, the two qualifiers will merely be the No. 1 and No. 2 finishers. The players coming in third and fourth will play to be a state alternate.
Those who qualify for state will be headed to the Gates Tennis Center in Denver for 5A, Pueblo City Park for 4A, and Memorial Park in Colorado Springs for 3A. Those tournaments run June 11-12.
Let’s take a look at the local teams below.
Region 1 at Cherry Creek High School, Tuesday/Wednesday
Local team: Boulder
Other teams: Cherry Creek, Legend, Northglenn, Columbine, Overland
What to know: Boulder is led by ace player Lily Chitambar, a junior who went 10-2 in duals during the regular season, per MaxPreps. Chitambar qualified for the state tournament as a freshman and reached the state quarterfinals before the season was canceled her sophomore year. The Panthers finished 4-4 in duals in the regular season and took fourth — behind Fairview, Fossil Ridge and Poudre — in the Front Range League tournament.
Region 2 at Fairview High School, Wednesday
Local team: Fairview
Other teams: Valor Christian, ThunderRidge, Horizon, Grandview, Highlands Ranch
What to know: The Knights have won 83 of their 89 matches this season. Top player Alexis Bernthal went 11-2, with her only losses coming to Boulder’s Chitambar. The senior won the No. 2 singles state title in 2019. Down from there, No. 2 and 3 singles players Natalie Stone and Quinn Bernthal have yet to lose this season at their respective positions.
Region 3 at Denver City Park, Wednesday
Local team: Legacy
Other teams: Denver East, Castle View, Hinkley, Far Northeast, Eaglecrest
What to know: Legacy finished 6-0 in duals this season and is led by a strong talent in Eileen Tran. The junior went 12-4 in No. 1 singles play. Her only losses came to Boulder’s Chitambar — which she fell to twice — as well as Fairview’s Bernthal and Ralston Valley’s Ally Lowe. Last Friday, the Lightning won the Broomfield Invite in its tune-up for regionals.
Region 5 at Mountain Vista High School, Wednesday
Local team: Monarch
Other teams: Mountain Vista, Arapahoe, Fountain-Fort Carson, Mountain Range
What to know: The Coyotes previously faced Mountain Range during the season and beat the Mustangs across the board. Mountain Vista and Arapahoe will likely be the tougher barriers to get through, however. The Golden Eagles from Highlands Ranch are undefeated in the regular season, while the Warriors are 6-3. Monarch will be led by its double teams, headed by seniors Maddie Devendorf, Niamh Heaney and Lindsey Igler.
Region 8 at Colorado Mesa University, Friday
Local team: Broomfield
Other teams: Fruita Monument, Heritage, Smoky Hill, Rangeview
What to know: Holly Vanderberg has had a nice season at No. 3 singles for the Eagles. The sophomore, who started her season with a three-set win over Boulder’s Jacqueline Christin, won her first four matches of the season, and is listed at 5-2 in duals overall. per MaxPreps. Elsewhere, Broomfield could have a couple strong doubles teams looking to make noise as well. At its own eight-team tournament last Friday, the No. 1 doubles team of Maya Fink and Makenna Kemper and the 4s-team of Lili Tedesco and Gretchen Metz went deep in their bracket.
Region 4 at Loveland High School, Thursday
Local teams: Frederick, Mead
Other schools: Loveland, Greeley Central, Greeley West, Mountain View, Severance, Windsor, Thompson Valley
What to know: Mead and Windsor have the best dual records among the Region 4 teams, both going 8-1 this season. The Mavs’ top three players — Mackailee Longobricco, Kylie Zanini and Campbell Smith — combined to go 22-4 in dual matches, per MaxPreps. In fact, No. 2 player Zanini, a senior, hasn’t lost a set. She won eight No. 2 matches and one No. 1 match. For Frederick, No. 1 singles player Maria Bello continues to be on the rise for the program. Bello was a doubles player her freshman season before rising to the No. 2 singles ranks last spring, where she got to play one match prior to the COVID-19 cancellation.
Region 5 at Niwot High School, Tuesday/Wednesday
Local teams: Niwot, Centaurus, Erie, Longmont, Silver Creek, Skyline
Other teams: Thornton, Standley Lake
What to know: Niwot’s Alys Pop and Longmont’s Lauren Pavot are among the No. 1 singles players with strong chances to win the 4A title. Pop has won all her dual matches in straight sets this season, dropping just 10 games along the way. Pavot, in the same, has also won in straight sets. Elsewhere, Niwot also has a standout No. 2 player in Anna Sallee. In nine straight set dual wins, she has dropped just nine games. Silver Creek is headed up by a strong No. 3 player in Keely Weber, who has won seven No. 3 matches and one at No. 1 singles. For Erie, it has a promising freshman in Laina Kitlowski. In her first year, she has split results in eight dual matches. Centaurus and Skyline, meanwhile, didn’t win a match during the regular season as both are guided mostly by young, inexperienced players.
Region 2 at Holy Family High School, Wednesday
Local teams: Holy Family, Prospect Ridge, Justice
Other teams: Skyview, Northfield
What to know: The Tigers have been strong in doubles all season, finishing with winning records at each pairing position. At singles, senior Emily Lindoerfer could see a strong showing at regionals after she went 6-3 in duals at the No. 2 spot. Inside her bracket will be a tough test in Annie Cao of Prospect Ridge Academy. The junior split her 2-singles dual matches this season. Justice, meanwhile, came into the season with a small team that was hoping for week-by-week improvement.
Region 5 at Dawson, Thursday
Local teams: Dawson, Peak to Peak
Other teams: Berthoud, Fort Lupton
What to know: If the regional is anything like the matchup between Dawson and Peak to Peak earlier this season — a dual which went 4-3 in favor of the Mustangs — it should be a thrilling region team finish. After losing three of her first four dual matches, Dawson senior Alexis Gilio won her final four matches in No. 2 singles. Two years ago, she reached the state quarterfinals at 3-singles. Also at that tournament, Peak to Peak won the title, while the Mustangs finished third.