It took Air Academy more than 25 years to get two victories against longtime rival Cheyenne Mountain in boys' tennis.
It could be a lot shorter to do so this time around. On Wednesday, the two schools breezed through the opening day of 4A regionals at Cheyenne Mountain, setting up five Kadets-Indians finals matches - including a matchup in each singles class - three days after Air Academy beat the Indians for the first time in more than two decades.
"It's hard to find someone who is from Air Academy that can say they beat a kid from Cheyenne Mountain in tennis," said Air Academy No. 3 singles player Naish Gaubatz, the senior captain, who helped the Kadets sweep the singles' matches in Monday's 5-2 dual win over the Indians and then didn't lose a single game in his two matches Wednesday. "Let alone, it's probably impossible to find someone from here who can say they beat Cheyenne Mountain twice in a week."
Thursday, they'll try to do just that as their No. 1 player Keenan Kaltenbacher will face Austin Hampton, freshman Stefan Orton-Urbina will try to make it two straight victories over Robbie Boe, and Gaubatz will again face former elementary school soccer teammate Will Geisz.
"We definitely don't want to lose to them again. That felt awful," said Hampton, who knocked off top-seeded Joseph Adducci of Vanguard 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals to set up a rematch with the youngest Kaltenbacher, who beat him 6-3, 6-2 earlier in the week. "Tomorrow is a new day though. After beating the kid from Vanguard, battling down to the wire for two hours in the hot sun, and then coming out on top, I'm feeling pretty confident going into tomorrow."
That mindset can't be the last of it though. Cheyenne Mountain coach Dave Adams said the Indians better have a lengthier "mental focus" if they hope to have some sort of success in third sets against Air Academy.
Monday, Orton-Urbina dropped the first set, but slowed his game down in the final two to edge the harder-hitting Boe, and Gaubatz bounced back from admittedly getting overconfident in the second set to close the door in the third set against Geisz on a day where Air Academy won all three of the third sets in the dual.
Adams, for one, is eager for the rematch.
"This is fun," Adams said. "We haven't been in a regionals this competitive in a long time. We're not used to being on the edge of our seats on the first day here. But this kind of competition will only help both of our teams at state."
The Indians lost seven seniors while the Kadets lost eight seniors from a season ago. Hampton was a part of the No. 1 doubles state championship team, while Boe and Geisz made up the third-place No. 4 doubles team for Cheyenne Mountain.
For the Kadets, Kaltenbacher is the only returning singles player. He took second at No. 3 at state. Orton-Urbina is in his first year and Gaubatz took third at state in No. 3 doubles.