DENVER | Eduard Tsaturyan put his finger to his lips in silence after winning the Class 5A No. 1 singles state championship Saturday, but his performance rang loud at City Park.
Tsaturyan — in his one and only Colorado high school season — rallied from a set down against 2021 state champion Aram Izmirian of vaunted Cherry Creek and roared to a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory that gave the Grandview program its first-ever state championship.
He arrived in the United States from Russia just six months ago, joined the Wolves and went undefeated in matches played during the regular season (winning every one of the matches he played in with just one loss that was by forfeit) and capped it off with a rousing victory in front of a throng of fans, including a number of his teammates.
“I was just happy, I don’t how to explain,” Tsaturyan said, owing to his limited English.
Tsaturyan’s win put the finishing touches on the best-ever season for coach Jeff Ryan’s program, which qualified for the first 5A state team tournament and then had six of seven lines earn their way into the 5A individual state tournament. The No. 3 doubles team of senior Caleb Hodges and Mark Yan provided another highlight for Grandview with their third-place finish.
The main event was the final between Tsaturyan and Izmirian, which was a rematch from a Centennial League dual a few weeks earlier that Tsaturyan dominated to give veteran coach Ryan his first win in any match against powerhouse Cherry Creek. The two were slated to play each other again in the quarterfinals of the team state tournament, but Tsaturyan forfeited the match and the Wolves lost 7-0.
He won two of his first three matches at the individual state tournament without losing a single game and the four he surrendered in one set to Ponderosa’s Matthew Hossack in the quarterfinals matched the most he gave up all year, but Izmirian found the resolve to deal him his first set loss with a 7-5 victory in the opener.
Tsaturyan got back into the match with a 6-3 victory in the second set that hinged on a break that allowed him to serve out the set, which he finished with a leaping backhand that went for a winner.
Izmirian responded by winning the first two games of the third set, but he would get broken three times the rest of the way. Tsaturyan made clutch shot after clutch shot, turning to pump his first in the direction of his teammates outside the fence several times. He sealed the championship with an ace.
“The first set I lost and I don’t know what happened with me,” Tsaturyan said. “The second set I won and I’m like ‘keep going.’ The third set was hard. I was losing 2-0, then I won, it was 2-2. It was hard and I won and I’m happy. It’s the first time for Grandview.”
Ryan hadn’t seen his star player tested much during the course of the season, so he enjoyed seeing the response.
“I think it made it all that much better,” Ryan said of the rally. “It was just so cool to see him face that adversity down a set for the first time. I don’t think he’s give up more than three or four games before, so to lose a full set and then have to come back is just awesome.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports