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By Jocelyn Rowley

Tennis: Niwot clinches Class 4A Region 5 title


October 11, 2017

Ed Navarro

Riley Black returns the ball at No 2 singles during the Class 4A Region 4 Tournament at Longmont Recreation Center on October 4-5.

For Niwot head tennis coach Miikka Keronen, his team’s 8-3 regular season record is nice, but the postseason is where all the action is.

“The real season starts on the first day of regionals,” he said before the final rounds of last week’s Class 4A Region 5 tournament at the Longmont Recreation Center. “Now we just have to finish the job.”

The Cougars did indeed finish the job, notching victories in five of the day’s seven championship matches to capture the 2017 Region 5 title. All four doubles teams as well as junior Manas Saini at No. 3 singles were winners on the day, and advance to this week’s Class 4A State Championships as the No. 1 seeds from Region 5.

Saini will be making his third trip to Pueblo, but his first as a singles player. In his freshman year, he and partner Gabe Hyde took third in the No. 4 doubles bracket, and last year, he and Peter Graham lost in the first round in the No. 1 doubles bracket.

“It’s really different,” Saini said after clinching his first regional singles title. “It’s weird not having a partner by me to pump me up, but I’m really excited to finally play singles and compete at state.”

Saini had no trouble in his match against Peak to Peak’s Ishan Kumar, winning 6-3, 6-0.

“I thought I came out and played pretty well,” he said after downing the senior. “Ishan is a great player. He has a good forehand, so I had to keep that away from him.”

Keronen was excited for the junior, who finished the year with a 10-3 overall record.

“Manas was awesome,” he said. “He played really well.”

Unfortunately, Niwot’s top two players came up just a little short in their championship matches. In No. 1 singles, Neil Wilcox lost in two sets to Peak to Peak sensation Brett Finan, while junior Riley Black fell to Peak to Peak junior Teo Cariov 6-4, 7-5 in No. 2 singles.

“Neil played well,” said Kernonen after Wilcox’s 6-2, 6-3, loss to last year’s state runner-up. “He started trying a little too much there in both sets towards the end, and that’s why he lost. But he’s learning and getting better. Tennis-wise, he’s definitely right there.”

Both Wilcox and Black earned berths to the Class 4A tournament as No. 2 seeds from Region 5, though Black was elevated to the No. 1 seed after Cariov withdrew due to a previous travel commitment. Black will also be making his third trip to state, where last year he took second overall in the No. 3 singles bracket.

In the doubles brackets, No. 1 pair Sam Keronen and Riley Mulshine swept Trevor Winterton and Nash Phillips of Erie, earning junior Mulshine his third berth at state. Patrick Xiao and Sam Bickham at No. 2 doubles also earned a return trip, while the No. 3 (Anton Lavrouk and Xavier Moy) and No. 4 (Jon Lee/Peter Lee) pairs will be making their first appearance in Pueblo.

“Everyone is looking pretty good,” Keronen said.

Ed Navarro

Riley Muleshine at No. 1 doubles for Niwot

The Class 4A State tournament will be held Oct. 12-14 at Pueblo City Park.

10/5 — Class 4A Region 5 Tournament, Championship Matches

Singles — 1. Brett Finan, Peak to Peak def. Neil Wilcox (6-2, 6-3); 2. Teo Cariov, Peak to Peak def. Riley Black (6-4, 7-5); 3. Manas Saini def. Ishan Kumar, Peak to Peak (6-3, 6-0).

Doubles — 1. Sam Keronen/Riley Mulshine def. Trevor Winterton/Nash Phillips, Erie (6-0, 6-0); 2. Patrick Xiao/Sam Bickham def. Alex Ailey/Derek Sorenson, Erie (6-2, 6-2); 3. Anton Lavrouk/Xavier Moy def. Cory Byrne/Jimmy McConahy, Longmont (6-0, 6-0); 4. Jon Lee/Peter Lee def. Alexander Preston/Daniel Rui, Peak to Peak (7-5, 6-2).


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