DENVER | Coming off a semifinal appearance in the Class 5A state team tournament, Regis Jesuit came into the 5A individual tournament in fine form.
The two teams that have gone a round further in the team tournament — Cherry Creek and Valor Christian, who will meet for the crown Oct. 18 — were a bit better as they combined to win six of the seven individual championships, but coach Laura Jones’ Raiders clearly displayed the benefits from the extra top competition late in the season.
When three days of play at City Park concluded Saturday, Regis Jesuit had a state runner-up in junior No. 3 singles player Brady Jenkins, the third-place No. 1 doubles team of senior Liam McDonnell and sophomore KC Eckenhausen and fourth-place teams at Nos. 2 and 4 doubles in senior Aidan Sobolevsky and sophomore Carl Siegel and senior Devin McCausland and freshman Adam Rydel, respectively.
“We had four out of seven positions place at state, so that’s a success,” Jones said.
Jenkins lost in the quarterfinals at No. 2 doubles at the 2021 5A state tournament, but progressed two steps further while playing in the No. 3 bracket. He won his first two matches in strong fashion, then came back from a set deficit in the semifinals to earn a matchup with Cherry Creek’s Kristian Kostadinov.
Kostanidov came out firing and took the opening set before Jenkins began to make adjustments and got his serve going. The result was a second set in which he had some set points, but couldn’t close. Kostadinov prevailed 11-9 in a tiebreaker to end the match and deal Jenkins only his second loss of the season.
“It’s a tough loss, especially when you have a couple of set points in the second set,” Jenkins said. “I thought I could have done a few things a little bit better and played a little bit smarter, but we both played pretty well. The outcome is what it is and I’m just going to move on from it.”
Jones said she appreciated the leadership and positivity Jenkins provided throughout the season and it was gratifying to her to see him perform so well at the state tournament.
“Brady played his best tennis here and really gave Kristian a run for his money,” she said.
McDonnell and Eckenhausen won the state championship at No. 3 doubles in 2021 and reunited again this season in the No. 1 position. They stepped up their game to the higher level of competition and made it all the way to the state semifinals, where they were stopped by Cherry Creek’s Jack Eikelberner and Charles Stern, the eventual state champions.
The Regis Jesuit duo responded with an exceptional performance in the third-place match, in which they fired on all cylinders in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Fossil Ridge’s Grant Samuelson and Jeffery Yao.
“We just wanted to enjoy our last match, so it was a great way to end it,” McDonnell said.
Added Eckenhausen: “We both served a lot better and we played lights out in the second set.”
Sobolevsky played in the state tournament for a third straight season with a third different partner, this time in first-time qualifier Siegel in the No. 2 position.
The duo took a set from Cherry Creek’s Trevor Robinson and Matthew Hu in the semifinals before falling in the third set to drop into the consolation bracket, where they won a three-set match to made the third-place match. Fossil Ridge’s Alex Van Thuyne and Jack Houldsworth took the key games in each set, however, as Sobolevsky and Siegel fell 6-4, 6-4.
“I’m proud of myself and him, we did great together,” said Sobolevsky, who placed fourth at No. 1 doubles in 2021 and fourth at No. 3 doubles in 2020.
McCausland was a semifinalist last season at No. 4 doubles along with Agustin Azcui (who played at No. 2 singles this season) and he made it back to the same round with Rydel. The Regis Jesuit duo fell to eventual state champions Tate Hutchins and Drew Kaprielian of Cherry Creek in three sets in that round, but won a dominating consolation semifinal to play for third.
The Raiders watched a set lead disappear in a three-set loss to Fossil Ridge’s Zane Webb and Gavin Payne.
Azcui lost to eventual state champion Jace Nakamura of Valor Christian in the No. 2 singles semifinals, then dropped a three-set consolation semifinal to fall a win short of placing. He, Jenkins and freshman Clay Dickey (who lost in the first round at No. 1 singles) all return.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports