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Boys tennis: Niwot’s Luke Weber hopes past failures can power him to No. 1 singles title

Niwot's Luke Weber delivers a backhand shot during his semifinal match at the Class 4A state tournament Friday afternoon at Pueblo City Park. (Dan Mohrmann/For
Niwot’s Luke Weber delivers a backhand shot during his semifinal match at the Class 4A state tournament Friday afternoon at Pueblo City Park. (Dan Mohrmann/For

PUEBLO — In the few times that Niwot’s Luke Weber has faced Kent Denver’s Nathan Gold in No. 1 singles play, the matches have been competitive. But Gold has walked away the victor each time.

For Weber, the previous matches have never been about winning then. It’s more about winning now.

“I had mostly been playing those trying to build a game plan for him,” Weber said. “I know what I have to do, I just have to execute.”

Executing the plan on Saturday at Pueblo City Park would result in Weber’s biggest win of the year as he and Gold will meet for the Class 4A No. 1 singles state championship. Weber had dropped just one game in the first two rounds before beating D’Evelyn’s Aswaanth Karuppasamy 6-4, 6-2 in a rematch of last year’s semifinal.

He is the only area player to advance to a championship match. And he has played his best tennis of the year to get to that championship opportunity.

“This will be the fourth time that they’ve played in maybe the last three weeks,” Cougars coach Aimee Hites said. “As talented as Nathan is, no one is unbeatable. Luke is going in super confident.”

They most recently met in the quarterfinals of the 4A state team dual tournament where Gold got the 6-0, 6-1 win. That was far from Weber’s mind as he worked his way through the individual bracket on Thursday and Friday.

With three dominant wins under his belt, he feels that he is in the best position to pull off what would be a considered an enormous upset to take down the defending No. 1 singles champion.

“I’ve been playing some of the best tennis that I have in a really long time,” Weber said. “I feel confident and Nathan is a hell of a player but I’m going to go out there and make him work for it.”

Weber has one teammate still alive for a medal as defending No. 2 singles champ LiChen Liao fell in his semifinal match to Kent Denver’s Will Moldenhauer. Liao will take on Mullen’s Patrick Duke for third place when matches begin on Saturday morning.

The most notable difference in the atmosphere at state tennis was the more individualized nature of the competition. With the team tournament now played on a completely separate bracket, the matches aren’t as tied into each player on the roster as they were in years past.

Not that the Cougars let it affect them in any way. No matter where they were on the bracket, they took on each match as is if they had something to prove as a team.

“We had a lot to prove as a team this year,” Hites said. “We didn’t get the best seeding in the team tournament so I think proving what we can do here and where we deserve to be is big for our guys.”

Weber and Liao will be back on the court Saturday morning with Weber going for a state title and Liao battling for third place.