Aspen High boys tennis finishes eighth in 4A state tournament Oct. 14 in Pueblo
The Aspen High School boys tennis team wrapped up play Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Class 4A state tournament in Pueblo, finishing eighth. With four champions, Kent Denver edged Colorado Academy to win its fifth straight state title, per CHSAANow.com.
“I was overall fairly pleased,” Aspen coach Gary Quandt said of his Skiers. “A few matches could have gone either way, and they just didn’t go our way. I’m not really sure it would have made a lot of difference in the team standings.”
Most of Aspen’s points were scored by its No. 2 singles player, junior Alex Ilic. Ilic advanced to the semifinals before a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Colorado Academy’s Quinn Bermingham, who beat Kent Denver’s Laird Stewart 6-4, 6-1 in the final.
Ilic advanced to the third-place match after a 6-3, 6-4 playback victory over Dawson School’s Carter Holbrook. He then lost 6-1, 6-4 to Niwot’s Riley Black. Ilic, the team’s best bet to play No. 1 singles in 2018, also finished fourth as a freshman and sophomore, but at No. 3 singles.
“He gutted it out and played pretty well. I give him kudos for that,” Quandt said of Ilic, who wasn’t feeling 100 percent for much of the tournament. “He played well in the matches he won, and even played pretty well in the one match he lost in the semis.”
Aspen also received points from its No. 3 singles player, senior Gabriel Suarez. Suarez lost in the quarterfinals of the main draw and then lost again in the semifinals of the playback round.
In doubles play, Aspen received points from its No. 2 and 4 teams. At No. 2 doubles, George Ghali and Christian Kelly won their first-round match on Thursday before losing in the quarterfinals. They did not get a spot in the playback round. At No. 4 doubles, Aspen’s Bryce Cordts-Pearce and Lukee Tralins also went 1-1 in the main draw before losing in the playback semifinals.
“My No. 4 doubles team, they kind of did what I expected them to do,” Quandt said. “A lot of it does come down to the draws and then you got to perform when you get them.”
Aspen’s No. 1 doubles team of Jonah Kelley and David Zalinksi and No. 3 doubles team of Dylan DeGraff and Liam Sunkel both lost in the first round on Thursday.
The other first-round casualty was senior Dillon Leasure at No. 1 singles. He lost Thursday to George Washington’s Dan Guiot, 7-5, 6-3. Guiot lost in the second round, while Peak to Peak’s Brett Finan eventually won the state championship.
“Dillon had a tough draw at No. 1. The guy was a good player,” Quandt said. “It was tough to see him go out early. It might have affected the team, I don’t know. That’s the nature of the draws.”
Leasure had been Aspen’s No. 1 player all but his junior year, when he played No. 2 singles behind Matt Lambert, who now plays for the University of Pennsylvania. With plenty of young players expected back next fall, Quandt is confident about the team as a whole, but knows it’ll be a difficult adjustment not having Leasure out on the court.
“The thing we’ll miss from Dillon is his leadership. He was definitely the leader of the team,” Quandt said. “It’s definitely going to have a different tone to the team. We’ll have to wait and see who steps up to take their place and what happens. That will definitely be a challenge.”
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Strange is a word that will likely define the winter high school sports season. But, after numerous delays and endless doubts, that season is finally here. It will include fewer games, more masks and a lot of empty seats, but adapting to that strangeness is better than the alternative.