AURORA | The new format to decide the Class 5A boys tennis team state championship is in play and two Aurora teams are among the inaugural 16 teams in the mix.
Previously, the 5A state championship got decided by cumulative points accrued by singles and doubles teams in their respective brackets at the individual state tournament, but points could only be picked up by teams that made it through regionals to qualify for state.
The new college-like format allows full teams to compete in head-to-head dual matches and work their way through a bracket until the team that wins the final dual Oct. 18 at City Park in Denver will hoist the 5A state championship trophy.
Regis Jesuit and Grandview will represent Aurora in the tournament, which was put together by a committee from the Colorado High School Activities Association, which used a combination of UTR rating, strength of league, overall record, strength of competition, head-to head competition and common opponents to determine the qualifiers and seedings.
Full 5A team state tournament seedings, bracket and schedule, here
Coach Laura Jones’ Raiders were seeded No. 3 and coach Jeff Ryan’s Wolves garnered the No. 8 seed, which earned both a home match in the opening round Sept. 28.
Regis Jesuit finished 10-0 in dual matches (including eight wins in Continental League competition) and won both the Western Slope Invitational and Ralston Valley Invitational. One of the Raiders’ dual match wins came at Boulder on Sept. 19, where they defeated the Panthers 5-2. The teams will square off again in the state tournament at 3:30 p.m. on the courts at Colorado Athletic Club-Inverness, Regis Jesuit’s home courts this season.
In the regular season victory over Boulder, the Raiders swept all four doubles matches — KC Eckenhausen and Liam McDonnell at No. 1, Aidan Sobolevsky and Carl Siegel at No. 2, Joe Dorais and Tyler Ryan at No. 3 and Devin McCausland and Adam Rydel at No. 4 — while No. 3 singles player Brady Jenkins won in straight sets. Freshman No. 1 singles player William Dickey lost 11-9 in a third-set tiebreak to the Panthers’ Daniel Benjamin.
The winner of that match advances to the Oct. 1 quarterfinals against the winner of No. 11 Mountain Vista and No. 6 Ralston Valley.
Grandview is much-improved this season thanks to a good base of returning players — including Alex Eckley and Caleb Hodges, who qualified for last season’s state tournament in doubles — plus the addition of some young talent as well as the arrival of a foreign exchange student at No. 1 singles in senior Eduard Tsaturyan. Tsaturyan has played seven matches and won them all, including a matchup with defending 5A No. 1 singles state champion Aram Izmirian.
The Wolves have a 6-2 dual record with one more to play (at Legend Sept. 26 in a rescheduled match) and will play host to ninth-seeded Monarch in a 3:30 p.m. first round state dual match. The Coyotes — who played in the same Greeley West Invitational as the Wolves back on Sept. 2 — own an 8-0 dual match record.
The Grandview-Monarch winner moves into the quarterfinals with a likely matchup against top-seeded Cherry Creek — which has won 44 state team championships all-time — which is paired with No. 16 Heritage in the first round. The Wolves were very competitive with the Bruins in a late Centennial League dual match before losing 6-1.
The boys tennis regular season concludes Sept. 29 and teams will be distributed into eight 5A regional brackets based on final league standings. Two players from each of the seven positions at each regional advance to the 5A individual state tournament, which is scheduled for Oct. 13-15 at City Park in Denver.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports