Vanguard School girls' tennis and others take advantage of opportunity to finally qualify for state

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Photo - Vanguard School senior Delaney Wilklow returns the ball in the girls' number one finals round at the 2017 3A regional round of girls tennis on Friday, May 5, 2017 at Memorial Park. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
Vanguard School senior Delaney Wilklow returns the ball in the girls' number one finals round at the 2017 3A regional round of girls tennis on Friday, May 5, 2017 at Memorial Park. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

A year after not sending anybody to the Class 4A girls' tennis state tournament, Vanguard qualified players at every position for next week's inaugural 3A meet.

The Coursers took first in five positions and won the first regional title in program history as 3A Region 6 concluded its long-awaited debut on Friday at Memorial Park.

They shared their big day with other small-school players who could only dream of a state berth before a third classification was added to girls' tennis this season.

"I feel like we're playing schools our own size," said Vanguard coach Kim Davis, whose team finished with 69 points. "It's all good, tennis is all fun, but it is good to play people our own size."

Colorado Springs Christian finished second with 55 points and qualified in five spots, while Colorado Springs School was third (43) and will send two. St. Mary's and Sierra, meanwhile, did not qualify.

The two-day tournament was a sharp contrast from previous years when each of the region's five teams were stuck in 4A Region 6. Qualifying was scarce outside of players from Cheyenne Mountain and Air Academy.

Said CSCS coach Randy Stephens: "This is my 30th year and I can't tell you how many years I've had girls that've been playing their whole life, working really hard, that I felt deserved to play at the state level. But because we were playing schools three times the size of us it didn't always happen. ... I applauded this move. I wish it would have come 15 years ago."

In the No. 1 singles final, Delaney Wilklow beat CSS freshman Kate Griffin to continue her dominant senior season.

With her ability to effectively move her opposition around the court with power and finesse, Wilklow now heads to state for the first time since she qualified in No. 2 singles as a freshman at Rampart.

"I'm not worried about the outcome (this year)," Wilklow said. "I just play the shots I know I can hit."

She wasn't the only one who changed their tennis narrative on Friday.

CSCS junior Michaella Thoman, who broke her arm during a match at Memorial Park earlier in the season, punched her ticket to state on the same courts with a second-place finish in No. 3 doubles.

Thoman says injuries are nothing new for her. She missed last year with a broken ankle and required arm surgery in the offseason because she was hit by a car while riding her bike.

She, like many other smaller-school tennis players, will get her first taste of state on May 11-13 at Centennial Park in Greeley.

"It's just fun to work together as a team and see all of our efforts are going toward something," she said. "It's just really, really fun."