Mountain Vista easily won the Class 5A Region 5 boys tennis championship and established itself as a team to watch at the state tournament.
The Golden Eagles won all seven finals in straight sets Oct. 3 during second day of the regional tournament that was held at Redstone Park.
Mountain Vista lost just 23 games during the regional and will now head into the Oct. 10-12 Class 5A state tournament at Gates Tennis Center as a team that could damage the title hopes of perennial state powers Cherry Creek and Fairview.
“We are peaking at the right time,” proclaimed Golden Eagles coach Jim Flanigan. “We’ve been the third or fourth best team in the state all year. Cherry Creek and Fairview are the top two teams going into state. I tell the kids all you want to do is put yourself in the best position you can. We’re in that group that could have a chance.
“I know that Cherry Creek and Fairview have better teams on paper, but I’ve told our kids that matches are not played on paper. You never know what might happen.”
Cherry Creek, Fairview and Mountain Vista qualified their entire teams, and Arapahoe will send players in six of the seven positions.
Mountain Vista’s regional champions were Vignesh Senthilvel at No. 1 singles, Ben Antonsen at No. 2 singles, Michael Shin at No. 3 singles, the No. 1 doubles team of Austin Gruszczynski and Vamsi Senthilvel, Maciek Lazarski and Alex Boyarko at No. 2 doubles, Enzo Ortiz and Kobe Holdren at No. 3 doubles and the No. 4 doubles duo of Blake Warner and Ashwin Vaithianathan.
Seven of the 11 Vista players have state tournament experience.
“I’m expecting tough matches, so I have to get ready mentally, physically,” said Vignesh Senthilvel. “Right now we are playing really well, and if we stay focused and play our game, we will surprise a lot of people at state.”
Andersen is a freshman who has watched the state tournament the past two years.
“I’ve gone to the state tournament the past two years to watch the players, to see some good tennis and see what I could learn from it,” he said.
Shin, a senior who didn’t play last summer because he was visiting family in Korea, believes the Golden Eagles can be a serious contender at the Gates Tennis Center.
“I’m definitely excited to see a lot of people who made it to state from regionals and to be playing higher competition and level of tennis,” Shin said. “Fairview and Cherry Creek are the teams but we have the caliber.”
Flanigan has watched his team grow from week to week this season.
“I’ve seen the team progress from the beginning of the year,” he said. “The guys are really coming together. Austin (Gruszcynski) had to sit out the first five matches because he was a transfer from Valor, so everybody had to play up a position. As the season has gone on, we’ve gotten stronger and stronger. The guys are ready and have worked really hard to get to this point.
“Vignesh is at the top of his game and playing well. Ben has been our a rock this year at No. 2 singles. Michael is a great team player. The last two years he has qualified for state as a No. 2 singles player, but Ben came in as a freshman and bumped him to No. 3, and he’s been playing great at No. 3 all season and understanding he wants to do well at state.”
Other Class 5A qualifiers from area schools:
No. 1 singles — Zach Fryer, Cherry Creek; Eric Kwiatkowski, Chaparral; Nicholas Farmen, Arapahoe
No. 2 singles — Connor McPherson, Cherry Creek; Jake Becker, Arapahoe; Monroe Porter, Legend.
No. 3 singles — Ethan Hillis, Cherry Creek; Brett Jones, ThunderRidge; Michael Shapiro, Rock Canyon; Greg Connelly, Castle View; Michael Maxwell, Legend; Cameron McGregor, Heritage.
No. 1 doubles — Harshil Dwivedi-Jake Miller, Cherry Creek; Chad Curd-Michael Vartuli, Arapahoe.
No. 2 doubles — Erin Norwood-Matt Gross, Cherry Creek; Matt Swearingen-Dylan Panis, Arapahoe.
No. 3 doubles — Teller Hoskins-Ben Schlechting,Cherry Creek; Colin Brown-Sanjay Patil, Arapahoe; Eric Stopps-Matt Givin, Rock Canyon; Adam Liss-Sam Kotenko, Legend.
No. 4 doubles — Jacob Bendaline-Wyatt Dale, Cherry Creek; Nick Jackson-Jonny Holm, Chaparral; Sam Muetterties- Robert Moore, Arapahoe; Keegan Hofer-Warren Hartzler, Heritage.
Area qualifiers from Valor Christian in the Class 4A state tournament that will be played Oct. 10-12 at Pueblo City Park:
No. 1 singles — Erik Ratkelis; No. 2 singles — Jimmy Amundson. No. 3 singles — Drake Bailey. No. 1 doubles — Mike Pistilli-Dan Stephan. No. 2 doubles — Jerry Farmer-Hunter Case.