Hopkinson, Wojcik lead Aspen girls tennis back to state after missed 2020 season
State tennis tournament starts Friday in Colorado Springs
Having only limited experience themselves, Aspen High School seniors Macy Hopkinson and Stef Wojcik were still the veterans and the AHS girls tennis team’s top two players this spring when they were tasked with leading a younger crop of athletes into a truly unique season.
After a rocky start, the Skiers will have nine players competing in the Class 3A state tennis tournament, which runs Friday and Saturday in Colorado Springs.
“This past season has been awesome. It’s all been crammed into just a few weeks, but it’s also sped up the team-building process,” Wojcik said. “Everyone contributes their own character to the team. But Macy and I being seniors and captains, we are here to help Steve (Sand) and the coaches in any way. We have a lot of underclassmen and that’s super awesome. That’s what keeps the team going. But anything people need help with, Macy and I are here.”
Hopkinson has by far the most experience of any AHS tennis player this season, especially after the 2020 season was canceled because of the pandemic. She won her regional and made state both as a freshman (at No. 3 singles) and again as a sophomore (at No. 2 singles).
Hopkinson had been in line to possibly take over the No. 1 spot last spring, replacing the long-tenured Mary Williams, but the coronavirus had other plans. She’s stepped up this season, however, and again won her regional for the third time in three tries during her AHS career.
“I’m excited to be No. 1 and it’s my senior year. Definitely high expectations, but I feel like I’m ready for it,” Hopkinson said. “States is always really difficult. I generally always get past the first round and then the second and third rounds get pretty tough. Especially at 1 singles, it’s going to be a lot harder. But I feel like I’m playing my best, the best I’ve ever played, right now, so I think I’m ready for it.”
Hopkinson, a future Notre Dame business student, drew Salida junior Maddie Anderson in the first round on Friday at No. 1 singles. She is 2-0 in first-round matches at state in her previous trips, but has never been past the quarterfinal round.
That said, she’s always one to embrace the challenge.
“I feel like I always play better when I play against better people,” Hopkinson said, “so I’m really excited to be No. 1 and to not really play against those pushers. I can play against those people who hit the ball harder. I feel like it’s real tennis now.”
Wojcik will face Pueblo Central junior Dayna DeYoung in the first round at No. 2 singles. Wojcik’s past experience at state only includes making it as a sophomore at No. 2 doubles alongside Olivia Burkley. The pair won the opener before falling in the quarterfinals.
“They had a year of no competition and Macy and Stef came back strong to lead the way. Both are great senior leaders, regardless of tennis skill,” said AHS head coach Steve Sand, who made note of Hopkinson’s late-season success each spring. “She brings her best at regionals. Works all year in practice and matches and kind of peaks. She’s peaked at the right time these last three years.”
The No. 3 singles position this spring belongs to sophomore Avery Leonard, the daughter of former professional golfer Justin Leonard, who won the 1997 British Open. While her father was a big-time golfer back in the day, Avery Leonard admits she prefers to have a racket in hand — she’s also a strong volleyball player — and lets her brothers hit the links with dad.
Photos: AHS girls tennis
Leonard is heading to state for the first time after her freshman season was canceled. She’ll face Pueblo County sophomore Isabella Bhagat in the first round Friday morning.
“I have no idea what to expect. I’m not super nervous. I’m excited to get the experience of going to state and just see how it all goes,” Leonard said. “It’s definitely been a learning trip. I’ve played tennis my whole life, but never in matches. So this first match against Vail was the first match I’d ever played, which was definitely rough. But I think I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot as a player over the season.”
Also competing at state for the Skiers are Sadie Bayko and Sonya Tralins at No. 1 doubles. Originally just alternates, they were late additions to the field after another team dropped out. At No. 2 doubles, Gemma Hill and Emma Bern will represent the Skiers, and at No. 4 doubles it’s Amelia Hecht and Lily Citron. AHS does not have a No. 3 doubles team competing at state.
The complete tournament bracket can be found here.
Considering the lack of experience and the slow start to the season — losing badly to Vail Mountain in the opener, which went on to win regionals ahead of Aspen — the Skiers have rounded into form nicely over the final weeks and enters the state tournament with no expectations, as Sand prefers it.
“It was a weird year, but the girls did great. I didn’t know what to expect, because we graduated a whole bunch of seniors,” Sand said. “Just happy and proud with how many we got to state, and a second-place finish at regional. We had a really good showing there.”
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