Durango High School sent its largest contingent to the state tennis tournament in years. In the first two rounds of play Thursday, the Demons played like champions.
Durango sent nine players at five positions to the Class 4A Girls Tennis State Tournament at Pueblo City Park. Seven advanced to the quarterfinals in four positions, and three moved onto the semifinals in two positions.
“The team feels really great about their accomplishments,” assistant coach Sue Lawton said. “They’ve worked hard this season and playing like a cohesive team and not as individuals. They’re supporting each other, and people are talking about our team in a good way. It’s really exciting to be in that position for Durango tennis.”
Friday’s success started with standout freshman Mavis Edwards at No. 1 singles. The rising star beat Emma Gaydos, a junior from Lewis Palmer, 6-3, 6-1 in the opening round. She then played Mattie Kuntzelman of Discovery Canyon in the quarterfinals and came away with a hard-fought, three-set victory, 5-7, 7-6, 6-3. Edwards will face Sara Schoenbeck in the semifinals at 9 a.m. Friday with a trip to the championship on the line. Edwards beat Schoenbeck in the regional tournament a week ago.
“It was a very challenging match for Mavis against a very good player,” assistant coach and Mavis’ mother Vivian Edwards said. “Mavis served very strong and overpowered her opponent in that third set. Mavis set this up for herself with a very big win at regionals, beating a girl who got second at state last year. Now in the semifinals, she’s meeting the same girl she played at regionals.”
Durango didn’t have a No. 1 doubles team at state. The duo of Lily Chick and Emma West at No. 2 doubles was quick to score points, though. They won 6-1, 6-3 against Montrose’s Natalie Patrick and Sage Ryan. Then, the Demons’ duo knocked off Coronado’s Sydney Coen and Emma Sartain in the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-3 win. Chick and West will face Cheyenne Mountain’s Taylor Heinicke and Arian Arenson in the semifinals at 9 a.m. Friday.
“Lily and Emily were impressive in the semifinals,” Vivian Edwards said.
“They’re playing very tough at the net, and the majority of their points are coming at the net by moving well and making good decisions.”
The Hackett sisters rounded out a strong Durango showing in singles play. Senior Maggie Hackett stormed past Loveland senior Addi Woodard 6-2, 6-2 to earn a spot in the quarterfinals against Niwot junior Julia Pentz. But Pentz got the best of Maggie in the quarterfinals in a 6-2, 6-1 win.
“I was very proud of Maggie fighting with the opponent,” coach Edwards said. “She was a very strong player, and Maggie put up a good fight.”
Emma Hackett kept it rolling at No. 3 singles with a thrilling 2-6, 7-6, 7-5 comeback win against Shannon Stone, a junior from Mullen. Emma was down 4-0 in the second set before storming back to win the match in a grueling tiebreaker in the third set.
She then played Claire Dibble, a senior from Cheyenne Mountain who beat Montrose’s Jess Ennis 6-0, 6-0 in the quarterfinals. Dibble beat the Durango sophomore 6-1, 6-0 in the quarterfinals.
“The girl had a dominating forehand and hit it kind of unusual with a slight forehand that skids away,” coach Edwards said of Dibble. “Emma played very well trying to get the ball to her backhand and play lobs. Emma’s first match was very impressive to watch as a coach.”
Durango’s No. 3 doubles team of Ruby Decora and Emma Jaber won another three-set battle 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 against Lily Sieben and Avery O’Neill of Niwot. They then played Tatum Maloney and Jordan Cleary of Mullen in the quarterfinals. The Mullen team defeated Durango’s duo 6-3, 6-4.
“Their first match was very tough, and it was a little bit of a dramatic match for them to pull that off,” coach Edwards said. “It came down to a lot of deuces and the girls overcoming their opponent in a tiebreaker. Unfortunately, an injury kind of slowed them down in the quarterfinals.”
At No. 4 doubles, Durango’s Camille Jacobs and Emma Vogel fell 6-0, 6-0 to a powerful Cheyenne Mountain team of Brooke Dashiell and Tiana Stepleton. But that group as well as the rest of the Demons who fell in the quarterfinals will have a chance to bounce back in the playback matches if the players they lost to make the championship matches.
After one day of the tournament, Durango has nine points to sit in fifth place as a team. Mighty Cheyenne Mountain leads with 21 points, and Valor Christian is second with 15 points, one ahead of Kent Denver. Durango is three points behind Palmer Ridge and one ahead of Mullen and Niwot.