Several made it to 5A boys' tennis state, but the area's top boys' tennis players will have to wait for next year if they hope to capture a title — that is, without knowing the results of playbacks.
In all, the bracket featured eight local athletes. The number could've gone higher if alternates were used, but even with COVID-19 still impacting preps sports, they weren't called upon.
Doherty senior Vaughn Biggs was the only local player to make it to state for No. 1 singles, but his run ended early.
He fell to Monarch senior Conner Smith (6-3, 6-2) to start the day. Smith, after the win, also won his second-round matchup to advance to the state semis.
Pine Creek junior Jackson Zenner was the lone boys' tennis standout from the area to make it to the second round. He upended Monarch junior Luke Jensen (7-6, 6-4, 6-1) to move on.
Cherry Creek senior Matt Batmunkh ended Zenner's run (6-0, 6-0) to move on to the semis.
"My goal is to win the whole thing next year,” Zenner told CHSAA's Dan Mohrmann.
He'll still have a chance to advance if Batmunkh makes it to the No. 2 singles final. In that scenario, he'd be able to come back through the playback bracket.
The Eagles' No. 1 doubles tandem of Parker Kancir and Eric Forester followed a similar path. They beat to Monarch's Garret Winkelbauer and Clay Hafner (6-1, 6-3, 6-4) in the first round before falling to Ralston Valley's Riley Steputis and Calder Hardin (7-5, 6-2).
For Liberty, it was all about doubles. Both the Lancers' No. 1 and No. 4 doubles made it, but neither will have the chance at a state title this year.
The top combo, Ryan Hansen and Trevor Stolk, fell to Fairview's Rafa Volkamer Pastor and Ben Mei Dan (6-2, 6-3) in the first round.
Similarly, No. 4 doubles pair Sam White and Llayton Shaffer lost to Denver East's Max Johnson and Laird Whitelaw (6-0, 6-3).
Both Cheyenne Mountain and Air Academy represent the two biggest threats to bring home a team title alongside Palmer Ridge. All three are still alive after the tournament's first day.
The Red-Tailed Hawks sent a nearly full team to the event. Through one day, it looks like it was more than deserving. Outside of No. 1 (no participant) and No. 2 singles, they advanced past the first round in every category.
Palmer Ridge senior Alan Davis upended Cheyenne Mountain senior Joseph Martensen in No. 2 singles (7-5, 6-4, 6-2).
No. 3 single, junior Steven Zhou, and No. 1 doubles duo, Jackson Miller and Tyler Blixt, have already clinched spots in the semi-finals after a pair of opening-day wins.
Zhou ran through challengers from both Riverdale Ridge (6-0, 6-0) and Vail Christian (6-4, 6-1). The Red-Tailed Hawks No. 1 doubles ran through Palmer Ridge's Ethan Michon and Christian Sack (6-1, 6-1) before taking down Air Academy's Finn Horsfall and Garrett Hayden (6-1, 6-3).
Cheyenne Mountain's near-flawless opening day has them in second place as a team. It's even pulled ahead of last year's champion, Niwot, through the first day.
Sand Creek junior Gavin Hutter made his way through regionals as an underdog. He entered the state tournament the same way, but was unable to come through a second consecutive weekend.
He fell to Prospect Ridge junior Rope Sela (7-6, 6-0).
Air Academy is the closest local team to Cheyenne Mountain's second-place mantle. It finished with eight points on the day behind all-but-one participant making it to the second round.
Senior Ben Hellem lost to Colorado Academy sophomore Clayton Johnson (6-0, 6-4) in his opening matchup.
Exchange student and senior Javier Aznar Villagarcia beat Dawson School senior Kevin Patel (6-0, 6-1) in the first round. He fell to Kent Denver freshman Nathan Gold (6-0, 6-2) in the second, but still has a chance to come back through playbacks if Gold makes it to the final.
With over half the tournament's scoring opportunities done, here's where the teams stand:
Updated 4A top-10:
1. Kent Denver (17)
2. Cheyenne Mountain (15)
3. Colorado Academy (13)
4. Niwot (10)
5. D'Evelyn (9)
6. Air Academy (8)
7. George Washington (7)
8. Denver South (6)
T-9. Palmer Ridge (5)
T-10. Evergreen (5)