When the stakes are high, don’t always expect Cheyenne Mountain senior Michael Dashiell and junior Grant Leap to take the situation too seriously.
As the No. 2 doubles team for the Indians this past season, they were known not to let the pressure take over.
That approach was key during the Class 4A state tournament.
In the semifinals, they captured the first set against Colorado Academy’s Nicholas Dietrich and Nicholas Pulido before noticing a posse of opposing coaches coming to the court, a sign that they were taking things too seriously.
Ultimately, Dashiell and Leap lost the final two sets but their attitude never changed as they went on to capture third place through the consolation bracket.
Their finish helped them land the honor of The Gazette Preps Boys’ Tennis Peak Performer Doubles Team of the Year. It also helped them erase the sting of exiting in the first round of last season’s state tournament.
“It was a long fight,” Leap said bout the semifinals match. “It was a lot of fun.”
That statement basically sums up Leap and Dashiell. They took the game seriously but always enjoyed the moment. Their coach, Dave Adams, recalls seeing them laughing and high-fiving each other during matches all season.
After Leap earned a point in one match, Dashiell shouted: “Someone get this man a Big Mac because he’s eating large tonight,” causing an uproar of laughter from spectators and teammates.
“That’s what high school sports is really all about,” Adams said.
Dashiell and Leap finished their second regular season as a duo with a 10-4 record.
Entering the state tournament, they had one goal in mind - make it to the quarterfinals.
In 2016, they were part of an Indians team that placed 16th overall, the worst finish for a program that has retained 16 state titles.
That year, they were among a bevy of singles and doubles players who suffered first-round exits.
Dashiell and Leap came through and helped Cheyenne Mountain to a third-place team finish despite not having anyone in a championship match. The Indians knew it wasn’t their year as the top team and happily settled with three third-place double teams, including No. 3 Robbie Metz and Max Schultz and No. 4 Carver Ward and Bennett Ziegler.
“Last season’s ending was really tough,” Leap said. “A lot of the guys that we thought would make it all got knocked out in the first round. We were willing to do better than last year.”
He and Dashiell did it their way.
In the first round, they easily slipped past D’Evelyn’s Justin Allen and Dom Cushnie with a 6-1, 6-4 win. After the match, Leap recalls telling his partner, “We’re already farther than last year.” In the next round, they shut out Steamboat’s Kyle Nisson and Gabe Rabanal in straight sets.
Then, they faced Colorado Academy and fell in three close sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
But they didn’t panic or pout.
“There was no reason to get down on ourselves and just focus on the next match,” Leap said. “You shouldn’t throw both of your matches because you’re sad about one.”
In the consolation rounds, they beat Valor Christian’s Trent Steese and Truman Osburn, and then Dawson School’s Phil Geraghty and Sam Troughton. It was an ending that they had always hoped for.
“In the offseason, I probably picked up a tennis racket two or three times,” Dashiell said. “But when the season started, we were working pretty hard every single day.”
It showed in the final team standings.