Boys Tennis Qualifies for State Championship
In 2015, the boys tennis team qualified just four varsity athletes for the 4A State Tournament and came away with a 21st place finish. They’ve been on an upward climb ever since then, finishing a little bit stronger each year, and coming even closer to that prized title: State Champions.
This year, the Eagles sent all 11 varsity athletes to State for the fourth year in a row and finished third for the second year in a row. But the numbers on paper don’t even start to tell the story of what made this season special.
“The van rides home after away matches were some of my favorite times this season,” Head Coach Bill Epping said. “We would stop at Wendy’s for dinner, we’d blast music the whole way home…there was so much laughter. You could really see during those rides home how grateful these boys were to just be playing tennis during a time like this.”
Tennis was one of just four sports that competed this fall, along with cross country, softball, and boys golf. As a result, several athletes who normally participate in other fall sports, such as football and boys soccer, came out to play this season. The tennis program had its largest participation numbers ever, filling over 70 roster spots.
“The way our coaching staff works, we don’t just have one coach for the varsity kids, one coach for the V2 kids, one coach for the JV kids… all of our assistant coaches work with every single player, and this year we got to coach kids who never would have come out for the tennis team otherwise,” Coach Epping said.
The boys tennis team carried the momentum from their third-place finish last year into the start of this year, and it never stopped building. The Eagles finished their regular season undefeated, winning the 5A Jeffco League title. They then went on to win the Ralston Valley Tournament against some of the top teams in the state. At Regionals, Valor swept the brackets in all seven lines and finished first. At State, all 11 varsity athletes won their first rounds and advanced to quarterfinals. Four positions advanced to the semifinals, and the #1 Doubles and #4 Doubles duos made it all the way to the championship match, where they fought until the very end in three-set matches, ultimately falling to Regis Jesuit.
Even though the State Tournament didn’t have the usual buzz of energy in the air that it typically does, the excitement and sweetness could still be felt. This especially rang true towards the end of the day on Saturday, after most matches had wrapped up and only a few teams remained playing.
“They let the kids stick around on Saturday after their matches were over to cheer on their teammates. Jackson [Case] and Logan [Weems] were playing in the #4 Doubles State Championship match, one of the last matches of the day.” Epping said. “All of the other boys were around the court, cheering as loud as they could for their teammates. It was weird not having many fans at the matches, but it was an incredible moment watching the team cheer them on, and once again being able to recognize how grateful they were to have had this opportunity to compete.”