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Ryan Neale decided to play on Ponderosa's boys tennis team this fall and the senior had a standout season.
He won the Region 5 tournament and finished third in the Class 5A state tournament on Oct. 12-14 at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver.
Neale suffered only his second loss of the season in the Class 5A state semifinals with a 6-1, 6-2 loss to eventual state champion Christian Holmes of Chatfield.
He came back to capture third place with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Javier Valenzuela of Mountain Range.
Neale has been selected as the 2017 Colorado Community Media South Metro Boys Tennis Player of the Year.
“I was a little hurt that I lost in the semis,” confessed Neale. “I wanted to make it to the finals. I lost to Christian in the semis and he won the tournament so that made the loss hurt a little less. Overall the season was not too bad.”
It took a little persuasion before Neale decided to play high school tennis.
“It was an extreme pleasure having a player with the talent of Ryan playing for Ponderosa,” said Mustangs coach Steve Prosowski. “Ryan toyed with the idea of playing along with his good friend Henry Cox last season, but his tournament schedule and training in Texas was too much.
“This season he made the choice to play high school tennis, which was encouraged by his current teammates, myself and his parents.”
Neale was a success on the court for Ponderosa.
“Ryan had a hugely successful season going 10-0 in the tough Continental League, going 3-1 at the Pueblo South tournament and going 3-1 in the state tournament to finish with an overall record of 16-2,” said Prosowski. “Ryan with his talent is all class and hard work.
“He would often be the first one to show up to practice, to warm up for matches and he really set a great example of what it takes to play such a high level of tennis.”
And he as an influence off the court too.
“He also stepped into the team dynamic quite well and earned the trust and respect of all his teammates,” added Prosowski. “It was an absolute pleasure to be his coach and I know he will do great things in the future.”
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