Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Student of the Week: Julia Pentz


March 22, 2018

Niwot senior Julia Pentz is undefeated in tennis so far this season.

The Niwot girls tennis team is a serious contender for the Class 4A State title this year, and senior Julia Pentz is leading the charge. In four matches so far this season, the Cougars’ No. 3 singles player is undefeated, with a two-time state title-winner and last year’s state runner-up among her vanquished foes.

“Julia is just awesome all around,” Niwot head coach Aimee Keronen said. “She’s a good team leader and she plays hard. I have all the confidence in the world in Julia.”

In Niwot’s season opener on March 6, Pentz made quick work of Colorado Academy senior Amanda Funk, then followed that up with a straight-sets victory over Valor Christian sophomore Isabella Pacheco in the home opener on March 12. As a freshman, Pacheco lost a three-set finals match at State to Cheyenne Mountain senior Claire Dibble. On March 17, Pentz was dominating in another two-set win, this time over Ariana Arenson, who has won two State doubles championships with Cheyenne Mountain.

“This season has been going well because I’m having confidence in my shots,” Pentz said. “And I have such great teammates that I can practice with and grow each week.”

Pentz has settled nicely into her role at No. 3 singles this season, following stints at No. 1 in her freshman and sophomore years, and a year at No. 2 last season, which she capped with an impressive third-place finish at the Class 4A State tournament. She moved to make room for nationally-ranked freshman Lucy Lu at No. 1, giving Niwot one of the top singles lineups in the state with Taylor Thulson at No. 2.

“Three singles is a different game than two singles,” Keronen said. “It can be a lot of lob ball and push ball, and you have to be patient with that. She’s learning how to play different styles of games.”

“She can hang with any of those lines,” Keronen continued. “She could be in any of those spots and succeed at state, so it’s awesome that we have her at three.”

Introduced to tennis by her parents, Pentz took up the sport recreationally at age five or six, and started competing in regional tournaments around age 11. She currently competes year-round, and trains at least 10 hours per week, even when she’s not in her high school season.

“I tried soccer and swimming and things like that, but I really just love tennis,” Pentz said.

When she’s not on the court, Pentz enjoys her AP classes at Niwot, particularly AP Economics and AP Statistics, which she hopes to put to good use as a business major at Southern Methodist University in Dallas next year. Her plans don’t currently include collegiate-level tennis, but she does hope to remain active in the sport through clubs and other groups.

For now, Pentz and her teammates are keeping their eyes on the ultimate prize, a win in Pueblo in May.

“The goal is the state title,” she said. “We’re a good team, and a close team, and I know we can do it if we really work at it.”


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