Clint Davis could see the writing on the wall, but his experience told him to stay the course.
The Fruita Monument High School tennis coach felt a shakeup at No. 2 doubles would be necessary, but chemistry with the combo he was thinking of wouldn't be a guarantee.
He would have paired his two sons together sooner than he did, but those family ties came with risks.
"I've seen them fight their whole lives and bug each other and annoy each other," Davis said with a chuckle.
KC, a senior, and Ryan, a sophomore, spent most of the season playing on separate doubles teams. Prior to the Wildcats' trip to Steamboat Springs on Sept. 20, Clint Davis decided to let his boys team up. They played together in the team's final six matches of the regular season.
"I finally relented and said, 'We'll try it.' " Clint said. "They tried it and destroyed Steamboat, looked great doing it. They've kept on a pretty good roll."
That pretty good roll continued on Thursday at the Elliott Tennis Center on the first day of the Class 5A regional championship. The Davis brothers defeated Grand Junction's Matt Jacobsen and Bailey Rubinstein 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) and Arvada West's Noah Martinez and Lorenzo Toronto 6-4, 6-2 to advance to today's final.
KC and Ryan's chemistry from years of playing together, as well as their drastically different builds and skill sets, has made them formidable.
"KC has a lot more experience," Ryan said. "He puts things away better than I do. I'm a little more technical, I guess, and I'm faster, so I can get to balls he can't and he can put away balls that I can't. We just complement each other that way."
They hope to put those complementary talents to use against Fort Collins' Carter Kawakami and Kendall Gallegos for a berth in the state tournament.
KC hopes a run to state could benefit Ryan down the road.
"It would be fun, not only to go to state, but also set him up to be less nervous for regionals in the future," KC said. "Maybe he'll have that experience so he can make it his next two years like I did last year."
Also a win away from state is junior Brandon Miller. He had enough success throughout the regular season to earn a bye as the No. 1 seed in No. 2 singles. He defeated Central's Cade Bickham 6-2, 6-3 to make it to this morning's final, against Fort Collins' Elliot Chen, who took down Grand Junction's Riley King 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinal.
"I know him a little bit," Miller said of Bickham. "I don't know him super well, but I've played him before and he's really nice."
Miller qualified for state last year at No. 3 singles. His experience getting to state has made this year's regional a smoother ride.
"It helps relax me," Miller said. "Just knowing I'm a pretty good player with a pretty good chance of making it to state, I just need to relax and play my game."
It was a big day for Fruita across the board. At No. 1 singles, Wayne Aggen beat Central's Watts Erb 6-0, 6-1 and followed that with a 6-4, 6-2 win over the top seed in the bracket, Grand Junction's Max Nikkari. Aggen faces Highland Ranch's Fohad Amas today for the regional crown.
After falling short of state in golf, Trigg Hayward is closing in on a berth in tennis after beating Arvada West's Jackson Roberts 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 6-3 and Grand Junction's Matthew Silzell 6-0, 6-3. He'll take on Fort Collins' Ian Hay-Arthur.
Another Fruita-Fort Collins showdown will take place in No. 1 doubles. Fruita's Jake Heer and August Pomrenke, the top seeds, beat Overland's Cogan Nguyen and Blake Malatchi 6-1, 6-2 to move on to today's final against Teagen Crow and Ben Poulsen.
The No. 3 doubles will, once again, come down to Fruita and Fort Collins. The Wildcats' Micah Hanly and Colby O'Day beat Arvada West's Jacob Voris and Jack Dugan 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 and Highlands Ranch's Niko Crane and Hayden Eppers 7-5, 7-6 (7-5). They'll face Steven Darbie and George Fang.
Fruita-Fort Collins will provide one more regional champion as the Wildcats' Liam Pomrenke and Coltan Gechter will face Eric Kearns and Suhaas Narayanan at No. 4 doubles. Pomrenke and Gechter defeated Grand Junction's Jase Satterfield and Alan Mora 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 and Highlands Ranch's Ty Hammond and Mark Finkevych 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.
Fruita and Fort Collins are the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the standings entering today with 56 and 53 points, respectively. Grand Junction is fourth with 15, eight points behind Highlands Ranch.