Mountain Vista and Heritage got together for the final regular season match of the season April 24 with the Continental League girls tennis title at stake.
Both teams entered the showdown with 8-1 Continental League dual meet records and Mountain Vista prevailed over the host Eagles, 5-2, to secure the league crown and earn the host role in the Region 3 state regional tournament which was held April 30-May 1 at Ken Caryl Ranch.
“As a coach I’ve never had it happen that the league championship has come down to the final match of the season,” said Mountain Vista coach James Flanigan, who took over coaching the girls this spring in addition to tutoring the boys team in the fall.
“It was really fun. We played really well. The girls realized what was at stake but they also realized they had to have fun. No matter what happened, it would be fun. Even the matches we lost, I felt everybody played well.”
Heritage’s Kristi Brethauer has never coached in a match with as much importance late in the regular season either.
“I’ve been a coach for 10 years and that’s never happened,” she said. “That was exciting, it made it worth something, since both teams were really strong throughout the season.”
Mountain Vista’s No. l singles player, freshman Casey Zhong, got the Golden Eagles off to a good start with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Joanna Kempton.
Zhong, a left-hander whose solid groundstrokes keep opponents retrieving shots from the baseline, raised her record to 10-1 this season.
“I played all right,” said Zhong. “I had just come back from a tournament in Las Vegas and there was an altitude difference. It was a good match. It’s been a good season. I’m really excited. The regionals will be fun. The competition will be a little bit harder. That makes me play better when I play better people.”
In the No. 2 singles match, Vista sophomore Kendra Lavallee defeated Alannah Gates, 6-3, 6-1, and Leia Krebsbach notched a 6-2, 6-3 win for the Golden Eagles in the No. 3 singles match over Heritage’s Caroline McLeod.
Heritage’s No 1 doubles team of seniors Ginny Hancock and Mollie Gopsill improved their season record to 10-0 with a 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2 conquest of Tyla Stewart and Jordan Wade.
Vista’s Amy Zhou and Hannah Murphy defeated Heritage’s Meccah Jackson and Katy Cohen, 6-3, 6-3 in the No. 2 doubles match and the Golden Eagles duo of Mari Dudek and Maddie Eccher won 6-4, 6-3 over Erin Myles and Caitlin Jackson in the No. 3 doubles match.
The league title had already been decided by the time the No. 4 doubles match concluded. Heritage’s Kendall Jackson and Peyton Pendleton downed Hannah Smith and Amy Zhong 5-7, 6-3, 10-5.
“We’re a younger team and it’s nice to see the growth and how they have done and what we’ve been able to accomplish,” said Brethauer. “The season is not over, we’re going to regionals and hopefully we’ll qualify a bunch (of girls) for state.”
The top two finishers in the seven positions in each of the eight region tournaments will qualify for the Class 5A state tournament that will be held May 8-10 at Gates Tennis Center in Denver.
Six of the eight Class 5A regional tournaments were scheduled for April 30-May 1.
Mountain Vista and Highlands Ranch were slated to be among the seven teams competing in the Region 3 tourney at Ken Caryl Ranch. Heritage was slotted to join Denver League champion Denver East in the Region 5 tournament at City Park. ThunderRidge, the fifth-place Continental League finisher was to be another of the eight teams in the Region 5 meet.
Centennial League champion Cherry Creek earned the right to host the Region 1 tournament at the Bruins’ courts. Rock Canyon and Douglas County, meanwhile, were headed for the Region 2 meet at Fossil Ridge while Legend was headed to Boulder Fairview for the Region 4 tourney.
Arapahoe was slated to be the host school for the Region 7 tourney at Redstone Park.
The Region 6 and 8 tournaments will take place May 1-2. Littleton will be in the Region 6 meet in Grand Junction while Ponderosa, Castle View and Chaparral will compete in the Region 8 event at Doherty High School in Colorado Springs.
In the Class 4A regional tournaments, Valor Christian was to be in the Region 1 tourney April 30 and May 1-2 at Colorado Academy. Lutheran and Englewood were scheduled to be in the Region 2 meet set for April 30-May 1 at Kent Denver.