Skip to content

Boys tennis: Win at No. 1 doubles gives Niwot victory in Class 4A state dual tournament

Cougars down Grand Junction, 4-3


NIWOT — With six matches complete and the score tied 3-3 between Niwot and Grand Junction in Wednesday’s Class 4A state dual tournament opening round, all eyes became affixed on the final ongoing battle.

The Cougars’ No. 1 doubles duo of freshman Oskar Hansen and sophomore Sebastian Moy had forced a third set and needed just six more points to beat Grand Junction’s Bailey Rubinstein and Jase Satterfield. Fortunately for Niwot, its young pair harnessed the pressure and delivered a clutch third-set win (2-6, 6-3, 6-3) to seal the 4-3 team victory.

Hansen admitted that falling behind early was merely a ploy to add some entertainment value.

“That was to make it more interesting,” Hansen said. “Who wants to see a boring 6-0, 6-0?”

In the afternoon’s other matches, Niwot, the state tournament’s No. 8 seed, swept the singles but lost the No. 2 through No. 4 doubles — all in two sets. The visiting No. 9 Tigers were even up one set in all four of the doubles matches at one point.

Niwot (11-4, 8-0 4A Region 5) head coach Aimee Hites said there were some challenges around facing an unfamiliar Western Slope opponent.

“It’s just tough when you’re playing a team that’s not from this area,” Hites said. “We had no common opponents, so we just didn’t know what to expect. They got a lot of good athletes and just looking at their size alone was impressive. They were a very athletic team, and it definitely was stressful, but I think that will only make us better going into the second round.”

The experience of Niwot’s top two singles players is a lethal weapon. Senior Luke Weber, who helped Niwot win the 2020 state championship, and junior LiChen Liao have won individual state titles in No. 3 and No. 2 singles, respectively. Weber took Wednesday’s No. 1 singles match (6-2, 6-1) while Liao won No. 2 singles (6-0, 6-2).

Freshman Charlie Kirtland, meanwhile, shined in his postseason debut with a No. 3 singles win (6-1, 6-2).

“It was definitely a lot more competitive,” Kirtland said. “I definitely felt the nerves all day in class, but the atmosphere was really fun and really supportive and really positive for us.”

Niwot is now tasked with upsetting No. 1 Kent Denver in the second round of the state tournament on Saturday. The two squads have met twice this season, once in a tournament and once in a dual match — a 7-0 Kent Denver win last Thursday. But as Hites alluded to, the match was closer than the final score suggests.

“It’s kind of a David and Goliath situation and we’re going in and we’re going to take them down,” Hites said. “We know we can, we were close with them. Obviously, the score wasn’t close, but the match scores were.”