Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Niwot boys tennis: Cougars win six straight; Chavez dominates


September 20, 2016

Don’t look now, but the Niwot boys tennis team is on a hot streak.

Since its 6-1 opening win against Thompson Valley, the Cougars have bested their opponents in five consecutive matches, and hold the top spot in 4A Northern League standings going into the second half of the season.

But longtime Coach Miikka Keronen isn’t getting too excited – yet.

“I felt like we would be pretty tough this year,” he said matter-of-factly. “So, we’ll see how it goes.”

So far, it is all going according to plan. The Cougars have dominated their league opponents with shutout wins over Centaurus and Northridge, and 6-1 victories over Thompson Valley and Silver Creek. In non-conference play, Niwot has posted wins against hard-hitting class 5A opponents Broomfield (5-2) and Boulder (4-3).

Leading the way for the Cougars this year is senior Matthew Chavez. Chavez, a quarterfinalist at last year's state championship, is undefeated at No.1 Singles in 2016, and has yet to drop a single set.

"Matt's a tough, tough player... very experienced," Coach Keronen said of the Cougar’s captain.

Keronen is also seeing outstanding play from freshman Cade Kammerer at No. 2 singles, and sophomore Riley Black at No. 3 Singles. Like Chavez, both are undefeated this season, and have yet to drop a set in any match.

At doubles, Keronen made several adjustments to his pairings earlier in the season, but now seems to have found the combinations he likes. At No.1 doubles, the formidable duo of senior Peter Graham and sophomore Manas Saini are storming through their matches, and, like their singles counterparts, have not suffered a loss this season.

At second doubles, Kernonen has paired freshman (and cross country refugee) Cruz Culpepper with sophomore Riley Mulshine, though seniors Gabriel Hyde and Andrew Thomas played in this slot earlier in the season. At third and fourth doubles, Keronen has rotated Hyde and Thomas with seniors Sam Bickham, Riley Fererro, Adin Heinritz, and junior Patrick Xiao.

Though Keronen is pleased with his team's success so far, he knows there is work to be done before the beginning of post-season play on Oct. 5. He is also dealing with some injuries to key players, including Caden Kammerer (ankle) and Gabriel Hyde (back), and will be tweaking his roster some during the final weeks of the schedule.

"It's a good thing we have some depth," Keronen deadpanned.

The Cougars will be back in action the week of Sept. 12, with three league matches in just four days, including one at home against cross-town rival Longmont on Sept. 15.

On Sept. 24, the Cougars travel to Denver for the annual Sun Devil Invitational. The exclusive tournament, held each year at Kent Denver School, includes just three teams in addition to Niwot—Kent Denver , the 2015 4A State Champions, Fairview (2015 Class 5A runners up), and Colorado Academy (2015 4A State runners up). The Cougars will meet Colorado Academy again on Sept. 27.


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