Cherry Creek again successfully defended it Class 5A girls tennis championship, defeating Fossil Ridge 67-46 for the team title. It marks the 17th year in a row the Bruins have won the state crown.
The standings were closer going into the finals with three head-to-head Bruins-Sabercats battles at No. 1, 2 and 3 doubles. Cherry Creek's No. 1 doubles team of Madeleine Bernstein and Julie Berlinger and the No. 2 doubles team of Morgan Cohen and Mia Hoover won their matches, plus Gloria Son won the No. 2 singles title to ice the Bruins' bid to retain the state team championship.
Cherry Creek also strengthened its hold on first place as the No. 3 doubles team finished second, the No 3 singles player finished third and the No. 4 doubles team finished fourth.
After winning her finals match, 7-5, 6-1, Son was relaxing but took time to talk about her victory.
“Today was amazing and winning state was the greatest feeling ever,” Son said about her play in the finals. “I was very nervous early when I saw all the people watching our finals match and I fell behind 5-3 in the first set. I told my coach I was determined to win this match. I got it together, focused mentally and physically so I was able to win in straight sets.”
The freshman was undefeated in 5A competition this season. She said she has been playing tennis since she was about 6. She also said she feels one of her strengths is playing an aggressive style and coming to the net.
Tennis is her only sport, but she said the coach works with her on conditioning so she will have the stamina to play her best even in a tough, three-set match.
Cherry Creek's girls tennis program has accurately been called amazing, winning 17 straight state team championships.
Coach Chris Jacob said depth is a major strength of the team.
“We had 161 girls come out for tennis this season,” she said. “We have six coaches on the staff and we try to have things organized so every girl is on the court four or five days a week.”
A tennis team is made up of three singles players and four doubles teams. The coach said a big part of the program is vying for spots on the rosters of the Bruins' two varsity and three junior varsity teams.
“The system allows anyone to challenge for a spot on one of our teams,” Jacob said. “Of course, computers help a lot keeping track of all the competition. We also have a seeding ladder and encourage players to challenge players above them on the ladder because our goal is to have every player on the court in a match against another team, a challenge match or at practice four or five times a week.”
She said there are a lot of strong teams so she knew state would be tough.
“There was no team that dominated the field this season,” she said. “It seemed every team had good players on the roster, so we knew it would be challenging to successfully defend our state title again.”
Jacob said tennis is the primary and, in most cases, the only sport most of the members of the Bruins girls team play.
“We are fortunate we have three very nice indoor tennis facilities nearby so most of the girls on our team can play tennis all year,” the coach said. “We have five seniors on this year's team, so we'll have a good group coming back to help us next season.”
Two other schools in the area, Arapahoe and Heritage, had some success at the state tournament.
Arapahoe High School finished fifth as the team of Callie Nicoulin and Lauren Meyers won the No. 4 doubles state championship, and teammate Tate Schroeder lost a tough three-set match to finish fourth at No. 1 singles.
The Heritage team had its best season in several years as the Eagles' No. 2 doubles team of Amy Farmer and Ginny Hancock took third and the No. 4 doubles team of Erin Myles and Caroline McLeod finished fourth.
“This has been a pretty good season for our team,” Eagles coach Kristy Brethauer said. “We had all our players qualify for state for the first time in a while, plus we had some girls place at state.”
She said the team should be pretty good next year as they only have four seniors on varsity. She added the team was young as far as experience was concerned because several players were new to varsity competition.