Aspen High tennis takes fifth at 4A state tournament, Chase Kelly finishes second
Led by a finals appearance from freshman Chase Kelly, the Aspen High School boys tennis team finished a strong fifth in the Class 4A state tournament on Saturday in Pueblo. It’s the best team finish for the Skiers since taking fourth in 2016, which is believed to be the program’s all-time best finish.
Kelly, playing at No. 3 singles, won his first three matches at state before falling 6-2, 6-2 to Niwot sophomore Luke Weber in the final. It was the lone loss of the season for the AHS freshman.
“I know it’s cliché, but the match was closer than the final score indicated. A lot of deuce games and back and forth, but the other guy kind of won the big points when it counted the most,” Aspen coach Steve Sand said of Kelly. “The competition, we all know it’s going to be tougher at state. He handled it great. Just played his game. It never looked like the nerves got to him.”
Aspen senior Alex Mosher had the second-best run for the Skiers, making it to the semifinals at No. 2 singles before a 7-5, 6-2 loss to Kent Denver junior Finn Cooper. Mosher also made the semifinals at No. 2 singles last season. Cooper lost to Mullen senior George Henry Hanzel in the final, 6-2, 6-3.
“Had a really tough match in the semis against Kent Denver. He fell down early, like 4-0, and battled back to 5-all,” Sand said of Mosher. “Just lost that 7-5 and it was emotionally draining to come back all that way and not get the set. He had some momentum.”
At No. 1 singles, Aspen senior Christian Kelly lost in the first round on Friday to Palmer Ridge junior Alan Davis, 6-2, 6-3. It concluded a standout tennis career for Kelly, Chase’s older brother, who held down the team’s top singles spot the past two seasons.
Aspen’s No. 1, 2 and 3 doubles teams all made it out of the first round on Friday before losing in the quarterfinals later that afternoon. Aspen’s No. 4 doubles team lost in the first round.
Because of stricter rules surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, there were no playbacks in this year’s state tournament.
Niwot won the team title with 38 points, narrowly holding off Cheyenne Mountain and Mullen, who tied for second with 36 points each. Kent Denver was fourth with 23 points, Aspen fifth with 13 points and Colorado Academy sixth with 12 points.
“Just proud of everyone. We ran into some tough draws. Christian, that 1 singles spot, it’s tough to crack at the state tournament,” Sand said. “Great season. Proud of everyone and Chase just played awesome to make it to that finals.”
The Aspen High School cross country team competed Saturday at the Moffat County Invitational in Craig, with the AHS girls cruising to the team title.
The Skiers were led by senior Kylie Kenny, who won the race in 20 minutes, 35.14 seconds. She was the first of three AHS runners at the top, with sophomore teammate Elsie Weiss coming in second (20:58.50) and sophomore Michaela Kenny in third (21:18.53).
The Aspen boys finished third among six teams, with senior George Beck leading all AHS runners by finishing fifth (19:02.60).
Basalt did not compete in Craig.
The Aspen High School softball team played Saturday at Gunnison, falling 19-4 and 26-4. The Skiers last played a doubleheader Thursday against Cedaredge, losing 18-3 and 25-1.
AHS, now 0-12 overall, will next play Tuesday at Basalt before hosting Delta on Saturday in the regular-season finale.
Basalt softball, 7-7 overall, has been off since falling twice to Delta on Tuesday, 17-9 and 9-8. The Longhorns close out their regular season on Thursday against Eagle Valley, following Tuesday’s home game against Aspen.