Prom, placement testing and a challenging schedule has the Cheyenne Mountain girls' tennis team feeling some pressure.
Add in a more compact schedule due to construction at the District 12 high school and the grind is noticeable.
"This is a really intense time on top of AP placement tests, finals, the end of the year and school, and everything," senior captain Ally Arenson said. "As an individual, you have to really prioritize and we're lucky we have people who can go home after winning their tennis match and study. I know I have gone through it for three years now, but it still hits me hard."
Arenson, one of three team captains along with No. 1 doubles partner Casey Ahrendsen and No. 3 singles player Claire Dibble, is cautiously confident the defending 4A state champions will set aside those distractions well enough during a difficult schedule. The long-term goal remains winning the program's ninth-straight 4A state title in May under coach Dave Adams.
The Indians, fresh off a home dual meet against rising Valor Christian, are in the middle of a challenging stretch in their schedule. They placed second at the Cherry Creek Invitational last week.
After dual meets against Air Academy on Tuesday and Valor on Wednesday, they welcome the 33-time 5A champion Bruins along with a number of strong 4A programs to this weekend's Cheyenne Mountain Invitational. They host Cherry Creek again next week for a dual meet.
"This is my favorite time of the season," Arenson said. "You have to go to those 5A tournaments because that is where most of the best teams are. The challenge is good and it pushes us. It's good for everyone on our team."
Dibble, who placed third at No. 3 singles last spring, is back competing in the same division, as is No. 1 singles player Morgan Hall, who also placed third a year ago. Arenson and Ahrendsen are going for their fourth state title together at No. 1 doubles. Their only loss came during their freshmen season versus a Fossil Ridge team.
While the schedule may seem daunting now, the older players know it may pay off at state.
"Every season there's a sense of progress," Dibble said. "We have a lot of new girls this year, especially in doubles, and so these tournaments help us mesh together and give us a better sense of team, especially because we spend so much time together. That (bonding) can make a real difference when you're on the court to know your team is behind you."