Kelly, Mosher lead Aspen High boys tennis to the 4A state tournament one final time
Expectations? Nobody has time for that. For Aspen High School boys tennis coach Steve Sand, what happens this weekend at state happens and you move on from there.
“I’m not going in with expectations. Just play hard, have fun,” Sand said. “Kind of let the chips fall where they may. We’ve been kind of around that sixth-place, seventh-place spot the last several years. But I really don’t want to have expectations. Just kind of let them go have fun and do their best.”
The Class 4A state tennis tournament gets underway Friday in Pueblo, with the championship matches scheduled for Saturday. After winning their regional title for the fourth straight year, the Skiers are again sending all 11 players to the big finale. The last time AHS did not send its entire team to state was back in 2014.
“It’s super exciting,” senior Alex Mosher said. “I’m glad we are all going to be there as a team again this year. And I’m pretty confident everybody will play well and do well as a team overall.”
Aspen again is led by senior Christian Kelly at No. 1 singles and Mosher at No. 2 singles. The pair held down those same spots last season, when the Skiers finished sixth as a team with 21 points. Cheyenne Mountain cruised to the 4A state title with 85 points.
Kelly was one-and-done as a junior, losing in the first round at state to Pueblo Central senior Dario Alcala, 6-0, 6-2. He was the team’s No. 2 singles player his sophomore year, going 1-1, and played alongside Georges Ghali at No. 2 doubles as a freshman, the pair going 1-1.
Kelly, who also competes on the AHS cross country team this season, will face Palmer Ridge junior Alan Davis in the first round on Friday morning.
“You got to play the matches, but they are going in with confidence,” Sand said of his top two players. “Christian has been playing well and he’s definitely a stronger player than last year. But we all know that No. 1 is the best of the best from every school. He’s just got to go in with a good attitude and grind away and see what he can do.”
Mosher made the state semifinals at No. 2 singles last fall, losing to Mullen’s George Henry Hanzel, 7-6, 6-3, to eventually finish fourth. He played No. 3 singles as a sophomore, losing in the first round in three sets. He did not live in the area prior to his sophomore year.
Mosher will play Pueblo Central junior Jordan Rittgers in the first round on Friday morning.
“Overall, my draw is a lot easier than last season,” Mosher said. “I think I’ve had a pretty good season with only one loss. We’ve all been practicing a lot, so hopefully I can top myself this year.”
Aspen’s wildcard could be freshman Chase Kelly at No. 3 singles. The younger brother of Christian, Chase has yet to lose in his young high school career but will be facing the big stage that is state for the first time this weekend. He’ll face another freshman in the first round on Friday in Air Academy’s Noah Hellem.
“He’s had a great year. He had to battle really hard to earn that No. 3 spot,” Sand said of Chase. “Some really tough challenge matches early in the year, and he’s just really built on those close victories. He’s really consistent. Just a consistent player and smart player.”
Aspen’s No. 1 doubles team enters with a lot of experience as well with seniors Lukee Tralins and Bryce Cordts-Pearce. The duo played together at No. 4 doubles as freshmen, losing in the quarterfinals. They went their separate ways the next two seasons before reuniting in the top doubles spot this fall as seniors.
They will play the Riverdale Ridge pair of Peyton Miller and David DiGiorgio in the first round on Friday morning.
“Both have a lot of experience and have been to state pretty much their whole career,” Sand said of his No. 1 doubles team. “They are going in with some confidence. They played really well at regionals.”
After that, the experience drops off in a hurry for the Skiers. At No. 2 doubles, senior Dyer Hunting is paired with freshman Josh Ward. Hunting played at No. 4 doubles last fall, alongside Quinn McKie.
McKie, a junior, is at 3 doubles this fall, alongside sophomore Micky Terkun. At 4 doubles, it’s sophomore Alex Schlosser playing with senior Sebastian Pedinielly. Terkun, Schlosser and Pedinielly are all newcomers to the state tournament.
The complete brackets can be found at CHSAANow.com.
The Skiers enter state having won five of seven possible regional titles, so they have plenty of swag to lean on, not to mention six seniors. But, as most of those players know, the state tournament is a different animal.
“It’s nice to do well at regionals,” Sand said. “But we all know states is a bigger field and it’s the best teams.”
Basalt did not have any players qualify for the state tournament.
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