Payton Fielding proved worthy of her spot at No. 2 singles for the state’s best tennis program.
Fielding, a freshman, came back from a 5-2 deficit in the third set to top Cherry Creek’s Lindsey Pond and post a giant 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 victory in a meeting between last year’s 4A champions (Cheyenne Mountain) and 5A champs (Cherry Creek) on Tuesday at Cheyenne Mountain.
“It was a gutty, gutty comeback,” Indians coach Dave Adams said. “She hadn’t really been pushed that much earlier in the year. That was her first.”
Fielding’s match was one of four three-set contests in the dual. Lauran Renjard fell 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 singles for Cheyenne Mountain and the Indians Nos. 1 and 2 doubles squads were pushed to the extra set before winning.
The Indians swept the doubles matches and dropped only Renjard’s match and No. 3 singles, where last year’s state runner-up Kristen Sullivan was out with an illness.
Cherry Creek had lost several players from last year’s state championship team and this was just its second match of the season, so Adams wasn’t quite sure what this victory might mean as his program guns for a 17th state championship this year. He thinks an upcoming match against defending 5A runner-up Fairview – which has the top half of its lineup back – will be a better measuring stick.
Either way, Tuesday’s dual was a great experience.
“It’s a nice relationship between the teams, really,” Adams said. “There’s a lot of mutual respect. It was kind of the way high school competition should be like. It was tough, gritty and aggressive, but there wasn’t any trash talking or that kind of negative stuff. There was a lot of smiling and handshaking after the matches from both sides. It was heartening to see that.”
Fairview and Cherry Creek will both be part of the eight-team field at the Cheyenne Mountain Invitational on Friday and Saturday.