Cherry Creek girls take state in tennis

COVID concerns altered tournament structure

Jim Benton
jbenton@coloradocommuntiymedia.com
Posted 6/15/21

Cherry Creek won yet another girls state tennis championship on June 12 at the Gates Tennis Center but this one was a little different. Creek, two points ahead of Fairview heading in the final day of …

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Cherry Creek girls take state in tennis

COVID concerns altered tournament structure

Posted

Cherry Creek won yet another girls state tennis championship on June 12 at the Gates Tennis Center but this one was a little different.

Creek, two points ahead of Fairview heading in the final day of the two-day tournament, played strong in the semifinals and finals on the final day and won the championship by 27 points (66-39) over the Knights.

It was the fourth straight state girls tennis title for the Bruins and marked their 22nd state crown in the past 23 seasons. Creek has now won 37 girls state tennis championships.

Still, this year’s title felt different since the season started later and was shortened among the several changes dictated by COVID concerns. And the state tournament was modified from three days to two days with a new scoring system to tally team points with no playback matches.

Cherry Creek, spurred by the disappointment after the 2020 season was canceled, advanced players into six of the seven singles and doubles finals and faced opposition from Fairview in five of the title matches. Creek won all five of those title matches against the Knights and added a sixth title in a No. 4 doubles match against Fossil Ridge.

Junior Lorena Cedeno, who grew up in Venezuela, captured the No. 2 singles title with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 win over Fairview’s Natalie Stone on a hot day at the Gates Tennis Center. Freshman Anika Sharma took the No. 3 singles crown with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Alexis Bernthal of Fairview.

Creek won all four doubles titles. Seniors Eliza and Nicole Hill were the No. 1 double champions. Eliza was the No. 2 singles state titlist in 2019 and Nicole took the 2019 No. 3 singles title.

Halley Mackierman and Anna Fusaris gave Creek the No. 2 doubles title as they secured their third straight state doubles titles. Both players are seniors.

Creek senior Victoria Moldovan teamed with freshman Jiselle Boker to win at No. 3 doubles and senior Ella Barclay and junior Vivienne Bersin won at No. 4 doubles.

Boulder’s Lily Chitambar, who beat Creek’s Jaque Pearsall in the semifinals, won the No. 1 singles championship with a 6-7, 6-0, 6-4 triumph over Smoky Hill’s Valerie Negin who was trying to win her second state title.

“I’m excited, proud, satisfied and everything,” said Creek coach Chris Jacob. “I’m just so happy for them. These girls have worked so hard and the seniors are such good players. To do that in six weeks is amazing.

“Every match was tough. The seedings were real deep and to be able to push through two matches in this weather and stay focused shows what these girls do off the court and how they get ready.”

Jacob pointed out the No. 2 and No. 3 singles wins as important to winning the state title.

“The finals with the new system for points they were using, those singles spots were key for us,” she commented. “Lorena winning at two singles for us and Anika’s win at three single and by finishing second at one of those two spots would have had a tremendous lean point wise.”

Creek picked up 13 points by taking the No. 2 and 3 singles titles. The Bruins also gained 10 points with victories in the doubles matches.

“I played good super good with confidence,” said Cedeno. “It feels really good to be a state champion, and I’m so happy to be playing for Cherry Creek. I was so focused in the third set.”

For Jacob the 2021 title will always have a special place for a program that has garnered many state titles.

“For me this title means a little more,” said Jacob. “These seniors were really important to me and just the year we’ve had and to see so much joy and play they brought every day to practice was beautiful.”

Heritage, which tied for seventh place in the team standings, won the sportsmanship award.

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