Over the past couple years, Cheyenne Mountain junior Grant Leap and senior Michael Dashiell have become increasingly comfortable competing together.
The partnership reached a new pinnacle Saturday at the Class 4A state tennis tournament in Pueblo where the duo finished third at No. 2 doubles to earn Peak Performers of the Week.
“A lot of our success in the third-place match came from the fact that we had so much experience together,” Leap said. “We really are well-coordinated. We’ve spent so much time together, we really understand what we need to do to win.”
The Indians found themselves playing for third after falling to a Colorado Academy team in the semifinals. Leap and Dashiell took the first set 6-4 before dropping the second 6-3.
Colorado Academy took a 5-0 lead in the third set but the Indians fought back before falling 6-4.
We almost made it a tiebreak,” Leap recalled. “It was about as close as you can get.”
“They were playing very well,” Dashiell said.
The duo closed the season with a 6-3, 7-5 win over a team from Dawson School for third place, allowing Dashiell to be one of the few to end his prep career with a win.
“It was awesome,” the senior said. “Of course at the beginning of the season, we were like ‘We want to win state. That would be so cool,’ (but) just winning your final high school tennis match is really something.”
The duo started playing together a season ago. They qualified for state but fell to Palmer Ridge’s Patrick Tooley and Tucker Balman, whom they beat without much trouble earlier in the season.
“Last year we had a great season until the state tournament,” Leap said. “We fell victim to kinda underestimating our opponents.”
Leap and Dashiell were part of the same line on the Indians’ junior varsity lacrosse squad.
“I think we became a lot closer,” Leap said. “We know each other really well now.”
Their strengths seem to complement the other’s well.
“Michael hits an outstanding forehand, and he’s very encouraging on the court,” Leap said. “He doesn’t break.”
“Grant has a really good backhand. I think he’s better at the net than I am,” Dashiell said. “He’s able to pump me up when I get down.”
The duo advanced to the semifinals after a 6-1, 6-4 win over D'Evelyn before a 6-0, 6-0 win over Steamboat Springs.
“A lot of times first-year guys will not necessarily understand or know what their partner is doing or thinking,” Leap said. “I feel that second year gives Michael and I a lot of experience, and I understand what he’s going to do on the court.”
A loss followed, and the pair had approximately two hours to prepare for the third-place match. Leap said he sat in a chair inside the team’s tent for some much-needed recovery time. Dashiell spent the break supporting his teammates and reflecting on how lucky he was to be able to compete.
“I wasn’t as upset as I thought I was going to be because I knew I put it all on the line, just gave it my best,” the senior said.
One of three Cheyenne Mountain doubles teams to place third, they helped the Indians finish third in the team standings, the best finish since the duo started high school.
“I think we definitely played our best tennis that day,” Dashiell said.
Other top performers
TJ Davis, Widefield
Davis, a senior quarterback, passed for 171 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 163 yards and two more scores in Friday’s win over Air Academy. He was also active on defense and special teams, as the Gladiators improved to 5-2.
Cade Bethany, The Classical Academy
Bethany came up big in a crucial Tri Peaks league win over Florence. The senior did most of his damage through the air, completing 8 of 13 passes for 222 yards and four touchdowns. He picked up another 63 yards on the ground on six carries.
Peyton Richter, St. Mary’s
The junior was instrumental in getting the Pirates back to the state tournament at last weekend. In the Pirates’ opener, Richter tossed a two-hitter with nine strikeouts. She also went 4 for 4 with 2 RBI in the game. She also drove in her team’s only two runs in a loss to Faith Christian.
Taylor Buckley, Lewis-Palmer
Buckley led the Rangers to a pair of wins last week. The junior posted nine kills and six service aces in a sweep of Falcon before putting down 12 balls in a four-set victory over Discovery Canyon.