As the Season D sports season starts to come to a close, girls tennis will be the first domino to fall.
On Friday and Saturday, the Class 5A, 4A and 3A state tournaments will take place in Denver, Pueblo and Colorado Springs as dozens of ladies from the Boulder and St. Vrain Valleys will compete for a chance at glory.
The 5A competition can’t come soon enough for Boulder junior No. 1 singles player Lily Chitambar (10-3 record), who missed out on her sophomore season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, she has a bit of state experience from her freshman season, so she knows what to expect.
Her regular-season competition will certainly help her out, too.
“I remember there was a lot of good competition (in 2019) and a lot of matches. I remember feeling like I had a lot of pressure and being pretty tired at the same time, so I’m going to go out there tomorrow and try to compete as best as I can,” Chitambar said. “I played Alexis Bernthal, the Fairview No. 1 girl, so many times (this year). It was good. I definitely got a lot of experience out of it, for sure.”
Bernthal (14-2) serves as one of the top 5A No. 1 singles players in the area, and Chitambar defeated her three out of four tries this season. That’s an impressive feat against a team like Fairview, who will be sending all three singles players and all four doubles teams to state. Boulder will be represented by 1 singles, 3 singles and 2 doubles.
Fairview’s Natalie Stone (2 singles, 16-1), Quinn Bernthal (3 singles, 17-0), Virginia Gomulka/Elizabeth Roth (1 doubles, 17-0), Jane Roth/Maya Brakhage (2 doubles, 16-0), Mia Grayson/Emily Hao (3 doubles, 15-1) and Rose Aweida/ Lilian Ma (4 doubles, 10-3) are all major title contenders.
Legacy will be represented in all singles and doubles competitions at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver this weekend and Broomfield will send ladies from three of its doubles teams. Legacy’s leading lady, Eileen Tran, also enters the No. 1 singles field as a serious threat as she holds a 12-5 record this year. Gracie Stapleton/Megan Mari (1 doubles, 13-5), Emma Nguyen/Aisha Prasad (2 doubles, 9-3), Kate Tsai/Ava Klein (3 doubles, 10-1) and Kady Vu/Emily Smith (4 doubles, 11-2) also have a good shot to go far.
Boulder coach Elizabeth Korevaar looks forward to a return to a bit of normalcy in a season that has been anything but. Due to COVID restrictions and an unusually rainy May, the Panthers struggled to take the court for practice much prior to the start of the season. Many teams, undoubtedly, will enter the state tournament in a similar position.
“A lot of (the talent) is what they brought with them,” Korevaar said. “I’ve got some amazing coaches, but we had so little time to teach them anything new. We really just had to try to strengthen what they already had. There was no chance of teaching them a new slice or anything like that. They came into the season with the skills; they just needed to hone them a little bit.”
Down in Pueblo City Park’s Class 4A competition, Niwot (three singles players, three doubles teams), Longmont (one singles player, two doubles teams), Silver Creek (two singles players, three doubles teams) and Mead (two doubles teams) will all be sending the best of their best. Niwot No. 1 singles player Alys Pop (9-0 regular season) defeated Longmont’s Lauren Pavot (9-0 regular season) in last weekend’s Class 4A Region 5 tournament, and both ladies will be top contenders for the 4A No. 1 singles crown.
Niwot will look for success through Pop, Anna Sallee (2 singles, 9-0) and Emily Creek (3 singles, 8-1). Silver Creek will lean on Keely Weber (3 singles, 8-0) as Mead will put its hopes in Lily Drouhard/Jaylyn Westenbroek (1 doubles, 7-2).
Holy Family (three singles players, four doubles teams), Dawson (three singles players, two doubles teams), Peak to Peak (three doubles teams) and Prospect Ridge Academy (Parker Rodriguez, 3 singles) will all represent the BoCoPreps.com area at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs for the 3A tournament.
Holy Family’s Laura Baker (3 singles, 11-4), Megan Smolky/Kelly Whitehill (1 doubles, 11-3), Sadie Bren/Sarah Stonehocker (2 doubles, 13-2), Audrey Brower/Clara Meisner (3 doubles, 12-2) and Ava Silverstein/Avery Alderman (4 doubles, 11-4) enter the tournament with some serious firepower behind them.
Now, all the ladies will have to wait and see how their draws will play out through two long days of competition.