It's a long leap from No. 1 doubles to No. 1 singles. But it might finally be clicking for Cheyenne Mountain's Austin Hampton.
The Indians senior was the lone winner in a 6-1 loss to Colorado Academy on Thursday, but he beat one of the top 4A players in the state and let everyone at Cheyenne Mountain's tennis courts know how excited he was with a cheer and raised arms.
"It's new for me playing singles," said Hampton, who defeated Fletcher Kerr 7-6 (5), 6-1. "I've kind of struggled, worked my way to the singles game, instead of the doubles game. And finally now I know how good I am and how good I can play, how I can beat these top guys."
Hampton broke Kerr in eight of the Colorado Academy junior's 10 serves.
"It gives me a target, it gives me something to look for," said Hampton, who beat Kerr's serve-and-volley game with timely lobs and passing shots. I'm one of those players who pushes and waits for them to make a move. "
While Hampton was cruising in the second set, the rest of the Indians were struggling. Not one second set went the Indians' way, as momentum swung the Mustangs' direction and stayed there. No. 2 Robbie Boe and the No. 2 doubles team of John Choe and Nicholas Teo lost in three sets.
Colorado Academy cruised to the program's first victory in school history against Cheyenne Mountain.
"We're excited about this," Colorado Academy coach Brian Singer said. "We always want Cheyenne Mountain on our schedule because these are the kind of matches that build the character in the kids, and it gives them the confidence going in when we play other teams."
The Indians have struggled after losing most of last year's team to graduation. Seeing Hampton win had Indians coach Dave Adams thinking maybe his top player turned a corner.
"No. 1 singles you don't ever get a day off," Adams said. "He's had a long season and played good tennis against a lot of very good players and just been a little short here and there."
After falling to 5-4, Indians coach Dave Adams couldn't remember the team ever being in that position, and he's been there since 1987.
Following last season's third consecutive state title, the Indians are trying to find the right pieces.
Hampton won a state title at No. 1 doubles last season. Boe and Will Geisz took third at state in No. 4 doubles, yet are now the Nos. 2 and 3 singles players, respectively.
Teo, a junior, did not take part at state last year. This year he's playing No. 2 doubles. He and Choe took the first set from the Mustangs 6-1 but dropped the next two 6-2, 6-3.
"We're like a new team," Teo said. "We're learning to get used to other teams so we can play better. We don't care about the losses, we just need to improve."
On Monday, they'll get another tough test in Air Academy. Then it's on to regionals starting Oct. 3.
"I think we're going to do better at state, even though our record isn't that good right now," Hampton said.