On Court 1, the players in the No. 1 singles championship match were shouting encouragement, or admonishing themselves after big points.

On Court 3, a good-sized gathering was shouting encouragement to the players in the  No. 3 singles final.

On Court 2 ... crickets. The finalists in the No. 2 singles match went about their business in relative silence.

Fruita Monument High School junior Brandon Miller won his second straight regional title Friday, claiming the No. 2 singles match 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 over Elliott Chen of Fort Collins in the Class 5A Region 7 tournament at the Elliott Tennis Center. Miller won the No. 3 singles regional title last fall.

"There were a lot of momentum swings in that match," Miller said. "After the tiebreaker I just felt loose and I was up 5-1 and feeling good, and I almost won that game. I just tightened up and lost it for a few games and was able to get it back."

A quick talk with his mom, Sandy, an assistant coach for the Wildcats, helped him refocus and close out the match.

"She said just calm down, act like this is a place you want to be right now, right here," Miller said. "Just focus on getting your serve in and moving your feet. Just have fun."

Miller not only had to outlast Chen in the first-set tiebreaker, he had to deal with playing half the match in the sun and the other half in the shade, with the Maverick Center casting a shadow on the side of the court closest to the building.

"It was pretty cold. I got in my car (Friday morning) and saw my breath and it was frosting on the car," said Miller, who played with a long-sleeved shirt under his team polo shirt. "It was really cold on this side. I was sweating like crazy because I had my sweater and sweats on warming up and I'd get on the cold side and I'd be freezing and I had to put my sweater back on, but then I'm on the hot side and sweating again."

Miller was the only regional champion for the Wildcats, who were in every final, but ran into some powerful players from Fort Collins. The Lambkins won the team championship with 75 points and qualified their entire team for next week's state championships at Gates Tennis Center in Denver.

Fruita was second with 60 points, getting Miller and three doubles teams to state. Highlands Ranch was third with 29 points and Grand Junction fourth with 23. The Tigers and Central did not qualify anyone for state.

"We had such a good day (Thursday) but we hadn't played Fort Collins yet at any spot and we knew they were good," Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. "It's been heartbreaking in a couple spots."

Those heartbreakers came at No. 1 and No. 3 singles.

Wildcats' Wayne Aggen fought back time and time again in the No. 1 singles title match against Fohad Amas of Highlands Ranch to get it to a third-set tiebreaker before falling 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5). The Wildcats' junior then had to play David Augustine of Fort Collins for the second qualifier spot, and dropped that 6-4, 6-3.

Trigg Hayward also lost a three-setter in the No. 3 singles final, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Ian Hay-Arthur of Fort Collins. He faced Jack Boomgarden of Highlands Ranch for the No. 2 spot at state, losing another three-set match, 2-6, 6-0, 6-2.

"It's brutal when you're in the finals and 1 and 3 singles were both within points of winning the region and then you have to turn around and play again," Davis said. "You could tell they were both (drained) mentally and emotionally."

Fruita's No. 2 doubles team of KC and Ryan Davis lost 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the finals, but avoided a playback match to qualify for state.

The 'Cats had two doubles teams survive playbacks to advance, the No. 3 team of Micah Hanly and Colby O'Day and the No. 4 team of Liam Pomrenke and Coltan Gechter.

"We really wanted to go to state," O'Day said. "It's my freshman year and (Hanly's) first year of being on varsity. I think we were kind of surprised that we did as good as we did, but we're excited to move on and see what happens at state."

Hanly, a sophomore, said it was a matter of playing every point to win their playback 6-0, 6-3 against Overland's Ilian Schinagel and Owen Snider, something they'll have to do next week in Denver.

"I think we knew we could win," he said. "The question was whether we could play hard and not let up ever, just know we could win."

Fruita's No. 4 duo, both freshmen, closed down the Elliott Tennis Center a little after 4 p.m., the final match of a long day. They rallied after losing the first set to Colin Christopher and Carson Kneisl of Arvada West to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Clint Davis would have liked to enter his entire squad in the state tournament, but all the Wildcats who qualified except for KC Davis are underclassmen, a bonus to get state experience, especially for the freshmen.

"We've got a tight-knit team," he said. "Everyone who didn't qualify said, 'I want to go, Coach, I want to go.' They all want to come support, so that's cool.

"It's such a cool environment over there, you just want them to experience it."

Recommended for you