A second-place finish at the 4A Region 8 girls tennis championships saw the Durango High School girls tennis team qualify three doubles teams and one singles player for this week’s CHSAA Class 4A State Championships in Pueblo.
Led by undefeated No. 1 singles star Emma Aubert, the Grand Junction Tigers won the regional tournament last weekend at Colorado Mesa University’s Elliott Tennis Center in Grand Junction. The Tigers qualified nine players total for the state championship tournament.
DHS saw plenty of its own players compete their way into regional championship matches, and the the top two placers at each regional advanced to the final tournament. That gave the Demons seven players total qualified for state.
“Win or lose, we are going to spend the entire day watching the tournament at state because six of our seven kids we are taking to Pueblo are underclassmen,” DHS head coach Darren Tarshis said. “Our goal each season is to see how many kids we can get to state. Some years, we can get close to bringing them all, and seven this year is pretty good. Those underclassmen going to state and being exposed to high-level tennis and being part of it is going to help our program.”
Durango had one doubles team claim a regional title. It came at No. 4 doubles with Hazel Cleaves and Ellie McLean, who won the championship match 6-1, 6-4 against Grand Junction Central’s Caysee Calton and Claire Dziwisz.
“This year is the first year either of them have played tennis in high school, and they went into the tournament as the No. 1 seed. They met the expectations,” Tarshis said. “They are really excited and relieved to win, and now they get to go play at state.”
When the brackets were released Monday, Cleaves and McLean learned they would be pitted against Lina Murane and Laney Pearson of Denver South in the first round of the two-day tournament Friday.
“They have the advantage of winning a regional and getting to play against an opponent that finished second at their region,” Tarshis said.
Durango will have Mia Boughton at state at No. 3 singles. She fell 6-0, 6-2 to Grand Junction’s Charlie King in the regional title match. Next, the DHS senior captain will sqaure off with freshman Taylor Stadjuhar from Class 4A powerhouse Cheyenne Mountain in the first round Friday.
“It’s a tennis dynasty at Cheyenne Mountain,” Tarshis said, speaking of his alma mater and coach Dave Adams. “It will be a tough match. I talked to Mia about it today, and she knows it is going to be high-level tennis. But Mia is the senior playing a freshman, and that is an advantage, and a freshman playing singles at Cheyenne Mountain will have some pressure.”
Durango’s No. 2 doubles squad of Adwyn Chowen and Juliet DiGiacomo also will head to state after a second-place finish at regionals. They fell in a tough three-set match (3-6, 6-2, 6-3) to Grand Junction’s Lizzie Ballard and Emma Rose in the regional final. Now, the Durango duo will see top-seeded Remi Peck and Meredith Waters of Kent Denver in the first round at state.
“Adwyn and Juliet are going in expecting to win after being close to winning their position at regionals against a really good team,” Tarshis said. “It won’t faze them seeing two Kent Denver freshmen.”
The No. 3 doubles championship at regionals also came down to a third set between Durango’s Eleanor Clark and Adelaide Cady and Grand Junction’s Kinya Tate and Madi Sites. After losing the first set 6-4, Clark and Cady rallied to win the second 7-6 with a 7-1 tiebreaker. But Sites and Tate would regroup to win the third set 6-2 and take the match.
Clark was a stand-in player for Durango’s Lola Bradshaw, who was held out of regionals for a health precaution. It is believed Bradshaw will be cleared to compete at state and take her place back alongside Cady when they meet Loveland’s duo of Brianna Fava and Sierra Lammers in the first round of the state tournament.
“We saw this year that tennis really can be a team sport sometimes,” Tarshis said. “Clark played more tennis than anyone on the team this year with a lot of JV matches and filling in on varsity every time there was a quarantine. She is practicing and staying sharp in case she is needed. Her name goes on that regional runner-up plaque for her role this season.”