The Hall twins ended the season in the state quarterfinals.
Two doubles teams, both made up of twin brothers, competed Friday for Durango High School at the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 4A state tennis tournament in Pueblo.
The No. 4 doubles team of Griffin and Rowan Hall secured a big first-round win against Pueblo County’s Ian Gowen and Jonathan Gonzales, but top-seeded Mareks Zeile and William Writer of Kent Denver would beat the Durango duo in the quarterfinals to end their tournament. It is a single-elimination tournament this year during a shortened season because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think if they played playbacks this year, the Halls would be winning a playback and facing Kent Denver again,” DHS head coach Mike Moriarty said. “I watched a lot of matches today, and Kent Denver was the only team I thought would challenge us. I think the Hall brothers could have beat all the other teams in the tournament. They were a strong team.”
The Halls beat the Pueblo County team 6-1, 6-4. It was a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Kent Denver in the quarterfinals.
“Just a much stronger team across the board with their serve, return and positioning. The Halls were clearly the stronger team and played up to potential,” Moriarty said of the first-round win. “It was a great first match to set them up for a tougher opponent later in the tournament.
“Kent Denver had extremely good positioning and net play. Our guys, I thought, played well. It didn’t feel like a 6-2 first set. But Kent Denver made fewer errors.”
Errors cost the Halls in the quarterfinals. They made 30 unforced errors compared to 10 for Kent Denver.
The Durango No. 3 doubles team of Hays and Ilias Stritikus was eliminated in the first round, but not without a fight. After a 6-3 first-set loss to Reeves Moor and Maia Heather of Niwot, the second set was tied 5-5. But Niwot earned a critical break to take a 7-5 win in the second set and advance to the quarterfinals.
“It was a fun match,” Moriarty said. “Niwot was a very strong team. The first set went about like folks expected. But the Stritikus boys played their hearts out and had a lot of great points. They stayed aggressive at the net and really pushed that Niwot team and frustrated them. They couldn’t believe they were in a set at 5-5. I was impressed with the Stritikus boys, and so was the Niwot team.”
The short season is now over for DHS. They only played in six matches during the regular season but were happy to be out playing. Moriarty is looking forward to getting back to work with the squad next fall. Both doubles teams at state this year were made up of juniors who will return with invaluable experience next year.
“Getting to come to state, see the level of tennis played up here on the Front Range, it’s a great experience for our guys,” Moriarty said. “We know what to work on in the spring and next summer to step up our game for next season. Playing at state is an experience I hope every kid who plays tennis at Durango High gets at least once during their time in high school.”