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Boys tennis: Niwot, Dawson earn wins at Class 4A Region 5 tournament

Frederick and Longmont also earned state tournament bids

  • Niwot's Charlie Kirtland plays in the No. 3 singles competition...

    Niwot's Charlie Kirtland plays in the No. 3 singles competition during the 4A Region 5 tournament at Niwot on Thursday. (Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com)

  • Niwot's LiChen Liao competes in the No. 2 singles competition...

    Niwot's LiChen Liao competes in the No. 2 singles competition during the 4A Region 5 tournament at Niwot on Thursday.

  • Dawson's Trey Larsen competes in the No. 2 doubles competition...

    Dawson's Trey Larsen competes in the No. 2 doubles competition during the 4A Region 5 tournament at Niwot on Thursday.

  • Longmont's Andrew Kujawa plays in the No. 1 doubles competition...

    Longmont's Andrew Kujawa plays in the No. 1 doubles competition during the 4A Region 5 tournament at Niwot on Thursday. (Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com)

  • Dawson's Bennett Opie competes in the No. 2 doubles competition...

    Dawson's Bennett Opie competes in the No. 2 doubles competition during the 4A Region 5 tournament at Niwot on Thursday.

  • Longmont's Andrew Brown plays in the No. 1 doubles competition...

    Longmont's Andrew Brown plays in the No. 1 doubles competition during the 4A Region 5 tournament at Niwot on Thursday. (Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com)

  • Frederick's Bridger Burnham competes in the No. 1 doubles competition...

    Frederick's Bridger Burnham competes in the No. 1 doubles competition during the 4A Region 5 tournament at Niwot on Thursday.

  • Frederick's Chris Bates plays in the No. 1 doubles competition...

    Frederick's Chris Bates plays in the No. 1 doubles competition during the 4A Region 5 tournament at Niwot on Thursday. (Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com)

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NIWOT — A Class 4A state semifinal snub last year didn’t sit right with Niwot’s Luke Weber.

Now a senior, he used that loss to motivate him coming into his final season, during which he’s been nothing short of dominant. On Thursday, during the 4A Region 5 tournament at Niwot High School, he improved upon his 10-1 record even more when he won the region in the No. 1 singles competition.

He only needed four sets and two opponents to get the job done.

“I worked a lot on my serve,” Weber said. “That was definitely the biggest part of my game that’s improved. I got maybe one or two inches from last year on my height, so that’s definitely helped a little bit, but I think a lot of that has been physical. I’ve been getting faster and getting stronger and that’s translating into the rest of my game as well.”

The changes to his game have led to increased explosiveness and endurance, which comes in handy during long, grueling tournaments, much like what he’ll see when he heads down to Pueblo City Park for the 4A state tournament next week.

He was far from the only Cougar to attain ultimate success through the regional, as LiChen Liao (2 singles), Charlie Kirtland (3 singles), Sebastian Moy/Oskar Hansen (1 doubles), Ollie Jones/Tyler Chivukula (3 doubles) and Rex Wallington/Lauritz Stranzenbach (4 doubles) all won out in their respective lines to seal their own fates for state.

Only Dawson’s 2 doubles team, senior Bennett Opie and sophomore Trey Larsen, managed to steal an individual regional title from Niwot. They finished the job on Thursday, the first day of the tournament, to avoid playing in the damp cold that Friday morning brought.

“I think yesterday, our down-the-line shots were really on point and we were just hitting all of our ground shots really well,” Larsen said.

The two Mustangs leaned on the maturity gained throughout a tumultuous season to help them end their regional run with fire.

“We’ve been kind of having a really tough season and at the start, we faced a lot of really challenging matches like Niwot,” Opie said. “We came to kind of close defeats, and that showed the grit, yesterday, that we had, that we were able to really come back from emotional lows and highs and be able to win it in the end.”

The tournament welcomed competition from Niwot, Dawson, Frederick, Longmont, Skyline, Riverdale Ridge and Mountain View in what turned out to be a strong showing from the Longmont and surrounding-area schools.

Frederick even walked away with its first state qualifier in school history. The Golden Eagles had to reach across the Atlantic Ocean to find him, as 1 singles player and Italian foreign exchange student Matteo Tavagnacco overcame strong competition in the top line to finish in second place.

Only the top two placers at each line qualified for state, and he relied on his mentality, his backhand and his serve to secure his first and only American state tournament bid. So far, he’s enjoying the ride.

“In Italy, we don’t have sports in school,” Tavagnacco said. “We have only private clubs and my team has only four players, so you have a lot of friends and like a big, strange family. But I enjoy it. It is really fun. Also, I played more matches than when I play in Italy.”

He’ll be joined by a few local opponents from Longmont, Lukas Selleck and Miles Walcott at 3 doubles, when they all head to Pueblo next week.

Selleck and Walcott overcame self-doubt to win their way through a Friday morning playback and steal the second spot in their line.

“We had a rough match against Niwot, so it feels good to win,” Walcott said. “We played really well this weekend.”

The pair had to warm up, both literally and figuratively, while they used the first set of a three-set match to wake up during their morning competition.

“Honestly, I did not think we’d beat Dawson,” Selleck said. “I went into the match not really thinking it would go well, but I’m glad it did. We got down in the first set and then in the second and third sets, we focused up and played good from then on.”

Full list of local state qualifiers:

No. 1 singles: Luke Weber, Niwot; Matteo Tavagnacco, Frederick

No. 2 singles: LiChen Liao, Niwot; Wyatt Saunders, Longmont

No. 3 singles: Charlie Kirtland, Niwot; Owen Leidich, Dawson

No. 1 doubles: Oskar Hansen/Sebastian Moy, Niwot; Charlie McIlroy/Sebastian Wehner, Dawson

No. 2 doubles: Trey Larsen/Bennett Opie, Dawson; Owen Jones, Jack Kujawa, Longmont

No. 3 doubles: Oliver Jones/Tyler Chivuluka, Niwot; Miles Walcott/Lukas Selleck, Longmont

No. 4 doubles: Lauritz Stranzenbach/Rex Wallington, Niwot; Leehman Wood/Kale Carlson, Dawson