NHS girls tennis competes in state championship
May 18, 2016
This past weekend was the Girls 4A State Tennis Tournament, and the Niwot High School girls tennis team had high hopes for the five competitors who qualified.
Sophomores Julia Pentz and Taylor Thulson and freshman Rachel Drake all won their regional tournaments for one, two and three singles, respectively. Senior Emma Lerner and junior Amanda Duquette qualified by placing second in the regionals at the one doubles spot.
The tournament kicked off last Thursday, and all three singles competitors managed to win their first round matches, while Lerner and Duquette were locked in a battle with a very good Pueblo West doubles team in the first round.
Lerner and Duquette were able to win the first set but dropped the next two and were eliminated after the first round.
Thulson dominated her second match on Thursday, winning it 6-0, 6-0 and moved on to the semi-finals match on Friday. There she ran into a problem that many people faced in the tournament, the utter dominance of the Cheyenne Mountain tennis team which qualified in every spot for the tournament.
“Thulson was solid and came in ready,” Niwot Head Coach Aimee Keronen said after the first day of the tournament. “Her toughest task will be the girl from Cheyenne Mountain. That entire team is good.”
Facing tough odds, Thulson played a fantastic match, dropping the first set 4-6 but winning the second 6-3. Then in a tightly contested third set, she was nudged out by a score of 7-5, sending her to the playback round.
From there however, Thulson picked her dominance back up, winning her first playback match 6-0, 6-2, and her second 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, giving her third place in the tournament.
Pentz in the one singles bracket faced her biggest rival in the second round, Sara Schoenbeck from Pueblo West, who she had lost to in three sets earlier in the season.
After winning the first set 7-6 in a very entertaining back and forth competition, she lost the second set 2-6 and had a chance to tie up the third set at five a piece but double-faulted on the final point and lost the set in a heartbreaker, 4-6.
“Pueblo West got us twice today, once in one doubles and once in one singles,” Keronen said. “They are a very good program and it’s unfortunate we had to play them so early.”
Schoenbeck went on to the finals which meant Pentz got a chance to play in the playback bracket, where she won her first match, 6-3, 7-5. Unfortunately she lost in the second round of the playback tournament 4-6, 2-6 and was eliminated from the tournament.
For the freshman Drake, really any kind of experience at the biggest tournament of the year was great for her development. Winning her first round match in three sets 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, set her up for a good day. She then played a very close first set of her second match, losing 5-7 then dropped her second set, 0-6.
Drake’s second round opponent did not move onto the semifinals so she was not able to play in the playback tournament.
“Drake played really well as a freshman in her first state tournament,” Keronen said.
Now that their season is over, the Cougars didn’t quite play as well as they would have liked in the state tournament but gained very valuable experience moving forward. The only seniors they will be losing are Lerner from the one doubles team, and Katie Ziel from the three doubles team that finished as an alternate for the state tournament.
The future is bright as long as the girls continue to develop with each other.