LOVELAND — Losing the Class 5A No. 1 doubles state title to Cherry Creek last year didn’t sit right with Fairview tennis’s Lizzie Roth and Virginia Gomulka. The sting of that loss set them on the path to perfection this spring, and they’ve yet to drop a single match with regionals just around the corner.
On Wednesday at North Lake Park, they kept that record immaculate when they won the Front Range League tournament. They fended off a tough No. 1 doubles team in Legacy’s Gracie Stapleton and Megan Mari in two sets.
That victory, along with victories at No. 2 singles, No. 3 singles and the other three doubles lines gave way to an FRL team title for the Knights, who scored 87 points in all. Fairview beat out second-place Fossil Ridge by 22 points.
“(Beating Legacy) gives us a lot more confidence. I feel like we’re feeling better this year and we have our feet under us and know what we’re getting into,” Roth said. “Seeing the whole team do well, it helps us all come together and get even closer when we all do well.”
Roth attributed her success with Gomulka to keeping their game consistent through varying levels of competition, and Legacy proved to be much tougher to take down than most. The Knights claimed a 6-2 win through the first set before the Lightning started to fight back in the second. The Knights pulled it out, just barely, after the Lightning forced them to go 7-5.
“I think, in the first set, we might have been a little bit less aggressive and we were kind of letting them control the match because we let the intimidation factors get to us a little bit,” Stapleton said. “But once we realized that we were right there with them in the second set, we were a lot more aggressive and had a lot more confidence.”
Stapleton and Mari, too, enjoyed an undefeated record up until that FRL title match. The pair, now 13-1, has worked well together all year as Stapleton has used her height to stay aggressive near the net and Mari has paced them from the baseline.
Now, they believe they can defeat any doubles team in the state after seeing what they were able to accomplish in that second set against Fairview. After all, they nearly came back all the way to force set three.
Chitambar keeps the fire going
Much like No. 1 doubles, another perfect record fell at No. 1 singles on Wednesday. It wasn’t that of Boulder’s Lily Chitambar.
Loveland’s Beilynn Geiss, who finished runner-up in her Class 4A state tournament in 2021, couldn’t quite match the heat that Chitambar brought to the court. The Boulder star shut Geiss down quickly in the first set to win 6-1. Geiss made her work for every single point in the second set, however, before Chitambar walked away with the 6-4 finish.
It was Geiss’s first loss of the season, and Chitambar grew stronger for it.
“She mixes everything up,” Chitambar said. “She hits a slice, then she hits a lob and then she hits hard. Her serve is kind of the same thing. I kind of knew that already because I’ve played her before, so going in, I was ready for everything and kind of moved my feet the best I could.”
Chitambar stayed mentally tough en route to victory, as her semifinal match earlier in the day proved even more difficult to overcome. She battled it out for one and a half hours with Poudre’s Avery Hickman before eventually taking her down in 7-6, 7-5 decisions.
Even through the toughest of competition, nobody seems to be able to beat the wonder kid out of Boulder as she chases her second consecutive state title. Only time will tell, as the ladies begin to wind down their season with regional tournaments starting May 7.
If the Front Range League tournament proved anything, it’s that 5A Colorado should watch out for those Boulder, Fairview and Legacy girls when the state tournament rolls around.