State tennis notes: Palmer Ridge reaches new heights

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Palmer Ridge coach Dawn Kruger was understandably busier Friday afternoon than usual.

She had three state finalists for the first time after the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 doubles teams all won their morning semifinals Friday.

"I expected one to make the finals but not all three," she said. "I'm thrilled."

It was the first time the 4A program had reached the Friday semifinals so everything was new territory for the Bears. All three doubles teams will battle Cheyenne Mountain duos for the state title at 9 a.m. Saturday at Pueblo City Park.

"We're all really proud of how our team has done," said No. 2 doubles player Bali Fitzpatrick, who advanced along with partner Ciara Babak. "We have played Cheyenne Mountain before and lost two close matches so we're ready to go out and fight."

The other Bears finalists are Cailin Foster and Regina Park in No. 3 doubles and the No. 4 duo of Maggie Metzger and Anna Bugosh.

Indians No. 1 doubles going for fourth straight championship

The Indians No. 1 doubles team of Casey Ahrendsen and Ally Arenson will be on the verge of history when they play Valor Christian for the 4A state title Saturday morning.

The duo will be going for their fourth straight title having already won together as freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

Being partners for four years – a rarity at the Colorado high school level – has developed a deep bond between the two girls.

"We have been really lucky to get to play together for four years," Arenson said. "We definitely have an advantage because we are best friends and have played together for three years. I think it would be more of an emotional than mental win for us (Saturday) because we love each other so much. It would mean the world to us."

They defeated Discovery Canyon foes Hunter Jones and Lizzie McCurdy 6-0, 6-2 to advance.

"We came in knowing we had to push through and that helped us get off to a good start," Ahrendsen said. "We started to have those ups and downs (in the second set) but we pulled through."

The pairing was an obvious one from the start for coach Dave Adams, who saw their potential when they were freshmen.

"They're both very athletic, and Casey hits the hardest overhand I've seen among Colorado high school girls," Adams said. "I have had a few welts from when I couldn't get out of the way in practice. You knew they could be become something special."

Pine Creek enjoys best state finish

Pine Creek No. 3 singles player Amy Wang advanced to the consolation semifinals before losing to Rampart's Grace Qiu, 6-1, 6-2.

The showing was the best for the Eagles, who moved down from 5A to 4A after reclassification this season, since 2010, coach Dave Lehman said.

"I am very happy with how we did," he said. "This was a building year. We lose three seniors but have nine coming back and that has me excited about the future."

Air Academy No. 3 doubles advances to third-place match

The No. 3 doubles team of Mackie Tate Tygart and Grace Ensor will be flying the Kadets banner  as the only Air Academy players to reach Saturday after advancing to the third-place match with a three-set win over Valor Christian.

"It means a lot to be able to represent our school and get to Saturday," Ensor said.

They take on Mullen at 9 a.m.

Area teams enjoy first 3A state tournament

Vanguard School coach Kim Davis was impressed with the quality of play at the 3A state tournament in Greeley.

Even better, she said, was the fact that more girls got the opportunity to be on the biggest stage in high school sports.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Davis, one of many small-school coaches who rejoiced as the state added a third classification to girls' tennis this year. “I think the competition has challenged the girls to play the best I’ve seen them play.”

The Coursers sent all seven positions to state after winning 3A Region 6 last week. They won six first-round matches before bowing out in the second round.

Colorado Springs Christian School sent players in five spots and watched as No. 3 singles player Nicole Pei came a win short of making the state finals.

“It’s a level playing field, it’s fair,” CSCS coach Randy Stephens said. “Before it was a rarity that they could get to the state level, and now they have a legitimate chance if they’ve worked hard enough. … It was weird taking eight girls to state.”

Colorado Springs School sent in two spots, led by No. 1 singles freshman Kate Griffin, who also qualified for the 4A state golf tournament with Coronado.

Fountain Valley’s Ivy Zhang and Delaney DeMott each won their first-round matches before bowing out in round two.