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5 individual girls' titles give Cheyenne Mountain 4th straight 4A tennis championship
PUEBLO – For the Cheyenne Mountain girls’ tennis team, being deeper across the board is much better than being dominant at the most glamorous position. It has been that way too many years to count, and now, the Indians have another addition to their trophy case.
Cheyenne Mountain rampaged to its fourth consecutive 4A state championship Friday at Pueblo City Park, claiming its 17th crown since 1986 – one more than its boys’ squad has collected in that span – on the strength of a singles title and a sweep of four doubles titles.
Payton Fielding defeated Loren Koszowski of St. Mary’s Academy at No. 2 singles. In doubles, Frances Adams and Caroline Kingo were winners at No. 1, Shelby Gilles and Lara Walden triumphed at No. 2, Lainey O’Neal and Katie Stagnaro prevailed at No. 3 and Caroline Fitzhugh and Alison Lynch won at No. 4. At No. 1 singles, Lauran Renjard lost against 2011 state champion Meagan Monaghan of Denver South in the semifinals, and at No. 3 singles, Kristen Sullivan fell to Delaney Nalen of Kent Denver in the finals.
“These girls had good, solid talent but really great chemistry,” said Cheyenne Mountain coach Dave Adams, whose team has accumulated 35 individual state titles in the past 14 years – 21 in doubles and 14 in singles. Adams added, “Is this the deepest team, strongest team we’ve ever had? I probably can’t quite go that far. But they’re right there.”
Taking state for the fifth time in six years hardly was a surprise for Cheyenne Mountain, which topped D’Evelyn by 50 points and Kent Denver by 54 points, having brought a 20-1 mark into the finals. The Indians were the best 4A team all season, placing first in every spot at the regional championships, winning every tournament they entered, going 7-0 at dual meets four times and posting victories over 5A powers Cherry Creek and Fairview.
No doubt, this group has a ton of hardware. It marked the second straight wins at state for the doubles teams of O’Neal-Stagnaro, Gilles-Walden and Fitzhugh-Lynch, and in 2010, Stagnaro won with Renjard and Walden won with O’Neal. Sullivan also was state runner-up last year, and she grabbed doubles titles in 2009 and 2010, the first with Stagnaro.
Credit Renjard for advancing far enough a year after an early exit, and as usual, Sullivan showed loads of toughness given her small stature. Nobody envisioned a title by Fielding, who is only a freshman, and while Cheyenne Mountain wasn’t really tested in doubles, it represented a long-awaited breakthrough for Frances Adams, the coach’s daughter who was third last year before switching partners to Kingo, a foreign exchange student from Denmark.
Fielding often mishit the ball in a loss in her first set, then in wins in her second and third sets, she listened to her father, John, a tennis professional at The Broadmoor. Her father told her, “Don’t let the nerves get the best of you.” It worked, as Fielding conceded, “If I had gotten too nervous, I probably would have broken down.”
The key for Adams and Kingo was their aggressive mentality. “When we’re aggressive,” Adams said, “we step in, and we can make things happen at the net. … We don’t have to talk that much, and we know exactly where we are, and we’re covering for each other.” Kingo noted, “We’ve had one season together, and we support each other pretty good.”