Kelsey Brading and the Chatfield Chargers are promoting hard court harmony through better communication.
Once in awe of Cherry Creek’s mighty tennis program, the Chargers have gotten to know the Bruins through annual Class 5A nonleague dual meets and just really enjoy playing them.
Consider it the most polite combat since fencing.
Brading especially, as she faced defending No. 1 singles champion Caroline Schnell, whom she was once standoffish with until they started playing together as 11-year-old doubles partners.
“We were undefeated forever,” Brading said. “It started out as a rivalry. Like, we didn’t get along; we wouldn’t talk because it was always hard matches. Then it turned into a friendship.”
Friendships aside, the Chargers went down in straight sets in five of the seven matches en route to a 7-0 defeat at the Ranch House.
“Creek brought it. Not just with the name on their warm-ups, but also with their playing ability,” Chargers coach Kollman Gearhart said. “Very aggressive, not letting anyone push them around. We got to start pushing like they do.”
Strapped with the loss of No. 2 singles player Madison Wiebe to a stress fracture, the Chargers were looking to show their usual strength in the four doubles slots. That held true at No. 1 and 2 doubles, but many of the Chargers showed their youth in the face of the Bruins, who have won the past 12 state titles and 18 of the past 20.
“Overall I thought we definitely competed well,” Gearhart said. “I’m not going to really create any excuses for the results. Cherry Creek is a great program, they always have been and they probably always will be.”
Brading lost 6-2, 6-1 to Schnell, who played extremely solid, dictated the match and never allowed Brading to break her serve.
“My serve was a little off, but her serve was very on,” Brading said. “I had to get my returns in, and that was hard.”
Brading won the opening game but was eventually down 5-1 before she was able to hold serve again. After cutting the deficit to 5-2, Brading couldn’t prevent Schnell from winning the next five games to go up 4-0 in the second set.
Molly Reynolds and Kimberly Arfsten rallied to force a third set in their No. 2 doubles match before losing.
Arguably the match of the day was at No. 1 doubles, where Sara Layman and Sarah Palmer battled throughout a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 defeat.
The Sara(h) Duo led 4-3 in the pivotal second set and was up 30-15 in the eighth game before successive double faults let the Bruins tie it at 4.
That tiny bit of momentum seemed to propel the Bruins to victory in the second set and set the tone for the third set.
The Chargers twice broke the Bruins’ serve but only led 2-1. Another key double fault by the Chargers helped the Bruins tie it at 2 and they would never look back.
“I don’t think it reflects anything at all. This is only our third match,” Brading said. “You play brand new people and there’s the nerves, the expectations you have, and now you can focus. You know who you’re going to be playing when we run into Creek again so you can focus on strengths and weaknesses.”