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Boys tennis: Monarch’s Jensen, Conaghan place fourth at state

Monarch senior Luke Jensen receives his No. 1 singles fourth-place medal at the Class 5A state championships at City Park in Denver on Saturday. (Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com)
Monarch senior Luke Jensen receives his No. 1 singles fourth-place medal at the Class 5A state championships at City Park in Denver on Saturday. (Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com)
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DENVER — When Luke Jensen first joined Monarch’s tennis program his freshman year, he never could have imagined where he’d be standing four years later.

On Saturday, he ended his high school career with a fourth-place finish at No. 1 singles at the Class 5A state tournament at City Park after losing his third-place match to Valor Christian’s Christian Trevey 6-2, 6-0. In his first two seasons, he didn’t even qualify for state and he didn’t make it past the first round as a junior.

“I’m proud that I’m considered to be the fourth best,” he said. “There’s a big skill gap between the fifth and fourth and the fourth and third-best players in the state. But there’s definitely a top three. I don’t feel like I’m in the three.”

As Jensen continued to improve his game, he pushed his opponents farther and farther back on the court. He crushed his high balls more often, improved his forehand and found just the right touch with his forehand slice.

He attributed his own rise to this year’s team camaraderie, as his fellow Coyotes gave him the confidence he needed to excel at Colorado tennis’ most competitive line.

“That really helped me mentally because I wasn’t there last year when it came to my mental game. I just couldn’t handle a lot of pressure,” he said. “But this year, it’s like I can handle a lot of attention being on me because I honestly don’t really like attention that much. I’d rather just kind of be someone that isn’t noticed that much, but now that I’m forced to be noticed I’m playing a lot better.”

He wasn’t the only Coyote to ball out at the state tournament.

Senior captain Callum Conaghan, much like Jensen, spent four years working on his individual game before also nabbing fourth place at No. 2 singles following a 6-0, 6-3 loss to Chaparral’s Oleksandr Hodzelykh. He and his No. 3 doubles partner in 2019 suffered a sound loss in the first round at state, and he didn’t play in the state tournament at all during his sophomore season.

Prior to Saturday, he hadn’t made it past the second round in any of the previous three years. He wanted to make sure his high school career would end on the highest note possible and he credited his senior success to his court composure, as he kept his play looser than he used to.

“I’ve been working really hard to get to this moment,” Conaghan said. “I mean, it sucks to go out on a loss my senior year, but he’s a really good player.”

While the Coyotes enjoyed a strong showing overall at the tournament, qualifying five lines in all, they know that Jensen and Conaghan will be hard to replace. After all, they ranked themselves among the eight best players in the state at Class 5A.

“They’re great team leaders,” head coach Billy Downs said. “Callum was our team captain and he led our daily calisthenics and all that kind of stuff and kept them going. Luke was our number one performer, so they will always look up to him, especially the younger guys.”

Monarch senior Callum Conaghan competes against Chaparral's Oleksandr Hodzelykh during the third-place No. 2 singles match at the Class 5A state championships at City Park in Denver on Saturday morning. (Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com)
Monarch senior Callum Conaghan competes against Chaparral’s Oleksandr Hodzelykh during the third-place No. 2 singles match at the Class 5A state championships at City Park in Denver on Saturday morning. (Alissa Noe/BoCoPreps.com)

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