Grandview senior Yehna Bendul lines up a return shot during a No. 2 doubles first round match at the 2017 Class 5A girls state tennis tournament on May 11, 2017, at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver. Bendul and partner Rachel Cullop won the match and also took the next one to make the May 12 semifinals. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

DENVER | Beating Cherry Creek in tennis is difficult for anybody, but it’s become a forte of late for the Grandview doubles team of Yehna Bendul and Rachel Cullop.

The senior duo won a regional championship last season by beating the vaunted Bruins and they were at it again Thursday, downing Cherry Creek’s Caroline Danos and Lexie Fisher in the quarterfinal round of the Class 5A girls state tennis tournament at the Gates Tennis Center.

Grandview senior Rachel Cullop stretches high to make a return during a No. 2 doubles first round match at the Class 5A girls state tennis tournament on May 11, 2017, at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver. Cullop and partner Yehna Bendul won twice to make the May 12 semifinals. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Bendul and Cullop rolled past Danos and Fisher 6-1, 6-3 to cap a 2-0 day and send them into the No. 2 doubles semifinals, scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday. The Wolves take on Rock Canyon’s Jennifer Gallagher and Grace Chadwick, who played two three-set matches on the opening day.

Coach Jeff Ryan’s Grandview team — which scored four points on the opening day to sit in a tie for seventh — has the possibility of another team in the semifinals, as the No. 4 duo of sophomore Rithika Gingupalli and freshman Mia Nguyen play a quarterfinal match at 7:30 a.m. Friday after play was halted Thursday due to impending darkness.

Gingupalli and Nguyen beat Joy Ma and Grace O’Neill of Fairview 6-4, 6-1 in the first round to set up a quarterfinal matchup against Ralston Valley’s Sarah Valaika and Sam Baker.

Bendul and Cullop won their first round match at last season’s state tournament at No. 3 doubles, but lost a three-set quarterfinal. This time they not only took care of their first round opponent with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Lakewood’s Maya Griswold and Davis Moore, they handled a Cherry Creek team including Danos, which had beaten then in Centennial League play.

In her second career trip to the state tournament — but first as a singles player — junior Amanda Olsen-Dufour dropped a three-set match to Denver East’s Adriana Strode at No. 3 singles.

Grandview freshman Mia Nguyen, left, and sophomore Rithika Gingupalli won their first No. 4 doubles match at the Class 5A girls state tennis tournament and play in the quarterfinals on May 12 at the Gates Tennis Center. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Olsen-Dufour jumped on a slow-starting Strode to win the first set 6-2, but dropped the second set 6-1 and went down 6-3 in the third. Strode’s loss to Ponderosa’s Amber Glantz in the second round prevented Olsen-Dufour from getting a playback opportunity.

The Wolves’ state contingent would have been larger if not for a freak injury at regionals. The No. 3 doubles team of sophomore Juniel Figures and senior Danielle Feck earned the second state-qualifying spot from the regional, but Ryan said Figures suffered a dislocated kneecap on the final point of the last match. Grandview had to withdraw and Broomfield’s Meghan Roylance and Ellie Penner took their place at state.

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel


Team scores: 1. Cherry Creek 13 points; T2. Ponderosa 12; T12. Mountain Vista 12; 4. Denver East 10; 5. Heritage 6; 6. Fairview 5; T7. GRANDVIEW 4; T7. Poudre 4; T7. Fossil Ridge 4; T7. Rock Canyon 4; T11. SMOKY HILL 3; T11. Ralston Valley 3; T11. ThunderRidge 3; T11. Chatfield 3; 15. REGIS JESUIT 2; T16. Lakewood 1; T16. Boulder 1; T16. Broomfield 1; T16. Arapahoe 1; T16. Fruita Monument 1; T16. Grand Junction 1

Grandview quarterfinals

No. 2 doubles — RACHEL CULLOP/YEHNA BENDUL (GRANDVIEW) def. Caroline Danos/Lexie Fisher 6-1, 6-3

No. 4 doubles — RITHIKA GANGUPALLI/MIA NGUYEN (GRANDVIEW) vs. Sarah Valaika/Sam Baker (Ralston Valley), moved to Friday

Grandview first round matches

No. 3 singles — Adriana Strode (Denver East) def. AMANDA OLSEN-DUFOUR (GRANDVIEW), 2-6, 6-1, 6-3

No. 2 doubles — RACHEL CULLOP/YEHNA BENDUL (GRANDVIEW) def. Maya Griswold/Davis Moore (Lakewood), 6-3, 6-0

No. 4 doubles — RITHIKA GINGUPALLI/MIA NGUYEN (GRANDVIEW) def. Joy Ma/Grace O’Neill (Fairview), 6-4, 6-1


Courtney Oakes is sports Editor and photographer with Sentinel Colorado. A Denver East High School alum. He came to the Sentinel in 2001 and since then has received a number of professional awards from...