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Pine Creek places six of seven positions in tennis region finals
Eagles lead Arapahoe in team race with Rampart third
HIGHLANDS RANCH -- Pine Creek freshman Nicole Kalhorn looks as harmless as a whisper until she blows her serve by you.
Grinning in braces, the overpowering Kalhorn led a bunch of Eagles to a spot in Thursday’s 5A Region 8 finals after she dominated her No. 1 singles semifinals match at Redstone Park on Wednesday (6-0, 6-0).
All but Pine Creek’s No. 4 doubles team made the finals – and even so, they’ll have a chance to make state if scenarios fall in their favor in the playback and championship matches.
Pine Creek leads the field with 52 points. Then there’s Arapahoe (50) in second with five of seven headed to the finals (minus Nos. 2 and 3 singles), followed by Rampart (27), which qualified champion hopefuls Leya Hartman at No. 2 singles and its No. 4 doubles team.
Rounding out the seven-team region were Grandview (14), Prairie View (12), Palmer (0) and Fountain-Fort Carson (0). The Trojans and Terrors have no possibilities to qualify anybody for state.
But the story was undoubtedly about Pine Creek and the notice it sent across 5A with the performance it had on a sun-wrapped day.
Kalhorn took about 40 minutes to walk into day two, thanks to a first-round bye followed by a shutout.
“I don’t think the girl from Grandview could handle my serve,” Kalhorn said. “She played well but I played pretty good.”
The rookie didn’t trail in a single game and will face Arapahoe’s Elly Fryberger in the finals.
“I’ve played with her on my club team,” said Kalhorn of Fryberger, who mirrored the freshman’s efforts with a 6-0, 6-0 win. “I beat her last time, but it will be a really good match.”
Fryberger took fourth at state last year.
In No. 2 singles, Rampart’s Hartman, who has never made state, will face Pine Creek’s Sarah Kosbab, who made state last year at No. 2, after a pair of two-set semifinal wins.
Hartman lost to Kosbab earlier in the season in straight sets.
“I’ve been working on my forehand a lot more since I faced (Kosbab) so I need to stay on top of that,” Hartman said. “It really hurt me last time, so this time should be fun.”
Hannah Clack filled out the singles spots with a 6-0, 6-4 win for the Eagles in hopes of making a repeat appearance at state at No. 3.
In doubles, the Eagles’ Nos. 1 through 3 teams only lost a combined one set. The Eagles beat the Rams at No. 2 doubles for the second straight time this season in a nail-biter (2-6, 6-4, 6-4).
“I’m very happy at where we are at,” Pine Creek coach Dave Lehman said. “There were some surprises and we got further in some positions than I thought we would. “
Thursday, with Rampart at its heels, Pine Creek will look to overthrow Arapahoe, which took fourth at state last year.
All finals start at 8 a.m. at Redstone Park.