Only a few short days away from the opening day of the 2017 state boys tennis tournaments, Mother Nature decided to offer up an early hurdle.
The season's first snowstorm greeted the Front Range on Monday, forcing athletes inside for the day. But with warmer weather slated for the rest of the week, odds are good that brighter days are ahead.
That's especially good news as players finalize preparations for the state tournament, which runs Thursday through Sunday. Gates Tennis Center in Denver will host Class 5A, while Pueblo City Park has those honors for 4A.
"We're pumped. We're ready to go. It's a short season, but it's compressed competitively and all teams, all athletes and all coaches do a lot of work in a pretty short period of time," Cherry Creek coach Art Quinn said. "It can go fast and furious and sometimes you feel like it's over in a blink, and sometimes you feel like it's never going to get there. It's like waking up on your birthday morning – it's time to go."
Quinn and the Bruins are pursuing a seventh consecutive 5A championship and 16th in 17 seasons. Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village)
qualified its entire squad to state, attempting to improve on its finish a year ago when the Bruins captured titles at No. 1 and 2 singles and No. 3 and 4 doubles.Alex Gordon
, who finished fourth at No. 3 singles as a freshman, moved up to take over the top spot for the graduated Ethan Hillis. Senior Ben Murray
went from No. 1 doubles to No. 2 singles, and freshman George Cavo
stepped in at No. 3 singles.Sam Angell
and Drew Hill
moved up one spot to No. 1 doubles; Stone Heyman
and Nick Eidler
– champions a year ago – are at No. 2 doubles; and another title-winning tandem, Zach Smith
and Nick Svichar
, moved up to No. 3 doubles.
"We're young at the top and mature at the bottom," Quinn said. "We're going to graduate six Varsity I players, so that wave is going to come again. The soil will be tilled once more in a pretty profound way."
As for the tradition that this year's Bruins squad is attempting to maintain, Quinn said it isn't always easy to appreciate that history at a young age. But he does know that everyone feels it, even if it isn't always talked about.
"I know what it means. I know what it means to me and what I would like to convey to them," he said. "I'm sure when they walk out on the court they want to be the best they can be – to do themselves proud, to do their family proud and to do their school proud."
With Cherry Creek chasing its seventh consecutive crown and Kent Denver (Englewood)
going for five in a row in 4A, here is a quick glance at the two classifications headed into first-round action Thursday morning:Class 5A
Cherry CreekReturning champions:
No. 2 doubles – Evan Nuss
and Emilio Gonzalez-Cruz
, Regis Jesuit (won at No. 2 doubles in 2016); No. 2 doubles – Stone Heyman and Nick Eidler, Cherry Creek (won at No. 3 doubles); No. 3 doubles – Zach Smith and Nick Svichar, Cherry Creek (won at No. 4 doubles).Overview:
Along with Cherry Creek, Boulder
, Fairview (Boulder)
and Regis Jesuit (Aurora)
qualified all seven positions to state. … Regis Jesuit – the only team other than Cherry Creek to win a state title since 1994 (the Raiders won in 2000 and 2010) – is a program to watch this weekend and in the near future. Two of the team's singles qualifiers are freshmen and the third is a junior, and defending No. 2 doubles champions Evan Nuss and Emilio Gonzalez-Cruz also return. Also back are Matt McCarthy
and Gabe Caldwell-Nepveux
, who lost in three sets at No. 3 doubles, and James O'Connor
and Matthew Mahoney
, who were runners-up at No. 4 doubles. Will Dennen
has a new partner at No. 1 doubles after making it to the finals a year ago. … A pair of freshmen – Chris Swanson
of Rock Canyon (Highlands Ranch)
and Regis Jesuit's Morgan Schilling
– qualified at No. 1 singles. Four freshmen qualified at No. 3 singles. … The No. 1 singles bracket also includes Denver East
senior Charlie Franks
, who placed third at No. 2 singles as a freshman and second at the same position in each of the past two seasons.Class 4A
Kent DenverReturning champions:
No. 1 singles – Jack Mouldenhauer
, Kent Denver (won at No. 2 singles in 2016); No. 2 singles – Laird Stewart
, Kent Denver (won at No. 1 doubles); No. 3 singles – Sam Nassif
, Kent Denver (won at No. 1 doubles); No. 1 doubles – Alex Wimer
and Oliver Greenwald
, Kent Denver (won at No. 2 doubles); No. 2 doubles – Coby Gold
, Kent Denver (won at No. 3 doubles).Overview: Air Academy (US Air Force Academy)
, Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs)
, Colorado Academy (Denver)
, Kent Denver and Niwot
qualified all seven positions to state. … The No. 1 singles bracket is deep. Kent Denver senior Jack Moldenhauer is a two-time champion (No. 2 singles in 2016 and No. 1 doubles in 2015) and also made the finals at No. 3 singles in 2014. … Juniors Brett Finan
of Peak to Peak (Lafayette)
and Nick Lorenz
of Discovery Canyon (Colorado Springs)
made the finals at No. 1 singles the past two seasons, respectively. Finan lost to Kent Denver's Casey Ross in 2016, and Lorenz fell to Ross in 2015. … Colorado Academy junior Richter Jordaan
was a runner-up at No. 2 singles as a freshman and lost to Ross in the quarterfinals at No. 1 singles as a sophomore. … The No. 2 singles bracket includes Colorado Academy senior Quinn Bermingham
, who was second at the same position a year ago; and Niwot junior Riley Black
, who took second at No. 3 singles. … Colorado Academy, which was second as a team in 2016, had four positions take second at state. Ren Lubchencho
, who was a runner-up at No. 4 doubles, moved up to No. 1 doubles with Caleb Aguirre
(second at No. 2 doubles last fall). … The Lewis-Palmer (Monument)
tandem of Isaiah Dawid
and Garrett Rademacher
moved up to No. 1 doubles after taking second at No. 3 doubles in 2016.