Even before their No. 1 doubles match ended, Cheyenne Mountain's Jensen Enterman and Taylor Heinicke found out that the Indians' hopes of a 10th straight team title had been derailed.
It should have upset them. But the opposite happened.
"It was actually motivation," Enterman said.
Heinicke added, "We weren't going to leave with nothing."
The sophomore-junior duo heard the news after they split the first two sets in the Class 4A state tournament at Pueblo City Park on May 12. But they rallied in the third, winning the finals match 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 over Mullen.
The bittersweet moment lifted Enterman and Heinicke to The Gazette Preps 2018 Girls' Tennis Doubles Peak Performers of the Year honors.
Last season, the players were on different doubles teams that won respective state titles. They merged this year despite the fact that both players were most comfortable with their backhands.
"Then, Jensen graciously moved over," Heinicke said, laughing.
It was a decision that benefited both players. Enterman had been practicing her forehand during the offseason, and Heinicke got to play a position that she liked more. And that strategy proved successful in the state tournament, in which the pair went through the first two rounds in straight sets over Air Academy and Durango.
In the semifinals, Enterman and Heinicke encountered a fierce matchup. It took them three sets to beat Kent Denver's Julia Doyle and Isabel Haifleigh. That intensity stuck around for the finals match, where Mullen's Jessie Cleary and Izzy Watts also took the Cheyenne Mountain duo to a third set.
Niwot captured the team title by winning all five of its final matches, including three over Cheyenne Mountain players. Enterman and Heinicke didn't let the idea of a third set scare them.
"Since we've been in that situation before and have come back," Heinicke said, "it was really helpful. Like, 'Oh, we've done this before plenty of times, and we just have to do it again.' "
"I tried not to think that we were in the third set of the finals," Enterman said. "I just tried to play my game and I think that helped a lot."