PUEBLO – To say Thursday was a challenging day for Cheyenne Mountain’s Lauran Renjard would be a gross understatement.
After defeating Alex Weil of St. Mary’s Academy 6-4, 6-4 in a tough match at No. 1 singles in the morning, Renjard survived a grueling three-set nail-biter against Regis’ Shelby Cerkovnik in the afternoon quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament. Renjard lost the first set to Cerkovnik and trailed 2-1 in the second before rallying for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory and a spot in Friday’s semifinals.
Renjard's pair of victories were part of a 14-0 day for the Indians, who advanced to the semifinals in every bracket and are in prime position for a 17th title.
Renjard, a junior, has played in the top singles spot for the Indians for two consecutive seasons. She was all smiles after her battle with Cerkovnik.
“I’ve played Shelby so often, and her and I always have a good match,” Renjard said. “I had a lot of mental ups and downs and twists and turns. It was hard, but it was a good time and both matches were really fun.”
Playing No. 1 singles is tough enough on a regular day. At state, it's brutal.
“I feel like, at No. 1 singles, every school has that one player who’s just killer,” Renjard said. “Mentally, you really have to work through (the challenges). Last year, I felt I was immature, but I just feel like this year has been a lot better and I’ve made a ton of improvements.”
Renjard’s resolve impressed her coach, Dave Adams.
“I was so pleased with her today,” Adams said. “She did such a good job of hanging in there, even though she lost that first set. She gathered herself and committed herself to the battle. Today was not just her being smart, it was grit.”
Her reward for the pair of victories? Defending state champion Meagan Monaghan of Denver South in the semifinals.
“Oh joy!” Renjard said of Monaghan. “It’s fine, and whatever happens happens. I’m going to grind as much as is physically possible. Maybe the 8 o’clock start will deter her from winning.”
If that wasn’t enough, Renjard had a paper to write on global warming for her AP language class before Friday’s semifinals.
Renjard’s pair of victories were part of a 14-0 day for Cheyenne Mountain, which took the lead in the team standings with 21 points. D’Evelyn is second with 16, while Kent Denver is third at 10.
Freshman Payton Fielding is in the semifinals at No. 2 singles, with Kristen Sullivan joining her teammate there at No. 3 singles. All four of the Indians’ doubles teams – three of which won state titles last year – won both of their matches Thursday to advance to the semifinals.
With inclement weather in the forecast for Saturday, the Colorado High School Activities Association plans to finish the three-day tournament in two days, with championship matches scheduled to begin midafternoon Friday.