It was long, frustrating, took a lot of patience, required a fairly significant trip and was wet and cold, as in very cold.
But their performance and finish were well worth it.Mullen’s Mustangs finished in a tie for third place at Colorado’s Class 4A girls tennis tournament for a second consecutive season, but their numbers were up in terms of team points and individual performances.
They scored 25 points with Golden, a team that edged the Mustangs in regionals, and had four placings, headed by Mikayla Phelps’ runner-up at No. 2 singles at Pueblo City Park.
“It was a very successful season,” second-year Mustangs head coach Jera Sturgell said. “We had 10 more points than last year and we added six new girls to the (11 spots) this year. They did great.”
Phelps, a senior, won her first three matches in straight sets before running into Cheyenne Mountain’s Jensen Enterman, a junior, in the final. Phelps went down 2-6, 3-6, but had the best showing for the Mustangs.
“She did really well,” Sturgell said.
And she wasn’t alone. Mullen top player and No. 1 singles Lauren Manwiller, a sophomore, improved from a year ago by placing. She lost to eventual two-time champion Lucy Lu of Niwot in the semifinals and settled for fourth after a three-set loss to senior Morgan Hall of Cheyenne Mountain.
Junior Megan Sandy also made the semifinals, going 2-2 at No. 3 singles. She lost the consolation match to senior Ariana Arensen of Cheyenne Mountain 3-6, 0-6.
And while Mullen was unable to score at Nos. 1-3 doubles, the Brooklyn Hanley-Parker Durand team at No. 4 advanced to the semifinals before losing a third-place match to Niwot’s Annie Heinritz-Avery O’Neill by 0-6, 1-6.
As for the team chase, Cheyenne Mountain outlasted Niwot 76-71. Palmer Ridge was fifth at 25
In a tournament that was shortened from three days to two and had an opening-day delay of two hours that pushed play to 9 o’clock at night, Sturgell said she couldn’t have asked for much more.
Plus, the Mustangs will lose only three seniors from their top 11.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” the coach said.