Area's depth on display with 12 semifinal berths at 4A state girls' tennis tournament

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PUEBLO • Palmer Ridge’s three doubles semifinalists were part of a strong area showing at the Class 4A state girls’ tennis tournament, especially with the usual dominance of perennial power Cheyenne Mountain.

Area teams garnered 12 of the 28 semifinal berths Friday at Pueblo City Park, paced by seven for the Indians, who are in position to repeat as state champs.

While that display by Cheyenne Mountain was impressive, equally notable was the depth of talent for other Pikes Peak region teams on Thursday.

“The area had definitely become stronger in recent years,” Discovery Canyon coach Brian Thirkell said. “When you add in teams like Pine Creek and Coronado moving down from 5A and a program like the Thunder and Palmer Ridge continuing to get better, you’re going to see a lot of good results by area teams here.”

Palmer Ridge had its Nos. 2-4 doubles teams advance to the 9 a.m. semis after six of its seven entrants won their opening match. Emphasizing the depth, two of the Palmer Ridge entrants, No. 1 doubles and No. 3 singles, lost to area foes in the quarterfinals. In all, there were six head-to-head quarterfinals.

The strong showing by the Bears have them in fourth with 12 points, behind Cheyenne Mountain (21), Valor Christian (15) and Kent Denver (14).

“We’re a pretty deep team,” Bears coach Dawn Kruger said. “It’s kind of what we expected with our Nos. 2-4 doubles advancing. We had some others lose to very good opponents so they’re still there (hoping for consolation matches).”

The Discovery Canyon No. 1 doubles team of sophomore Hunter Jones and senior Lizzie McCurdy defeated their Bears foes 6-3, 6-3 to set up a showdown with the Cheyenne Mountain duo of Casey Ahrendsen and Ally Arenson.

“I’m excited,” McCurdy said. “We’ll go out there and see what happens, but we know even if we lose we have a chance to come back and place.”

Jones and McCurdy relied on their state experience to enjoy a strong season — their only losses are to fellow semifinalists Cheyenne Mountain and Valor Christian — to help them perform well.

“They just rock and rolled,” Thirkell said. “They clicked right away and have played really well.”

Coronado coach Tyler Philipsen said the 4A talent outside the Pikes Peak region made for a deep state meet, especially with 3A schools like Lewis-Palmer, Kent Denver and Mullen playing up a level and qualifying for Pueblo.

“We thought the addition of a 3A state tournament would dilute the 4A field but it seems to have actually made it stronger,” he said.

He said that made the area showing all the more impressive.

“I can tell you that 4A has gotten stronger even in my four years,” McCurdy said. “The depth of talent in the region has gotten better which is why I’m happy to see DCC keeping things moving forward.”