Double their titles

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By Dan Johnson

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE- It’s doubtful that either Kelley Pickens or Melissa LeMar needed any extra motivation heading into their No. 1 doubles state championship match on May 10.

But, when their opponents from Ponderosa made some comments about them in the media leading up to the match, well, the Chatfield duo had a reason to come out with an extra bounce in their step.

After stating that they had waited the entire tournament to meet up with Pickens and LeMar, Ponderosa’s Kaley Carmichael and Melissa Skovira were served a nice big plate of humble pie.

Pickens and LeMar played their best two sets of tennis on the season, easily claiming the state title with a dominating 6-2, 6-2 victory at Gates Tennis Center.

“I’ve waited four years for this,” LeMar said. “We lost last year in the finals and we knew this was our last chance to get it done and it’s just an amazing feeling to be able to do it.”

LeMar and Pickens finished the year with an 18-1 record, their lone loss coming at the hands of Carmichael and Skovira at the Cherry Creek Invitational.

“That was a really close match,” Pickens said of the teams’ first encounter. “We beat them the first set 6-1 and then things just got away from us.”

Following form from the Cherry Creek Invitational, Pickens and LeMar started the May 10 title match off strong. They broke Ponderosa’s serve to start the match and three games later, they broke the Mustangs’ serve again to take a commanding 4-1 lead in the opening set.

After winning the first set on serve, the Chargers snatched control of the second set with two more breaks of serve. Just as they did in the first set, Chatfield served out the second set to seal the victory.

“Our volleys were really good and we knew they liked to come to the net so we kept the ball deep,” Pickens said. “It was just a great day for us.”

It was also a great day for Chatfield’s No. 2 doubles team, as Dani Lutes and Sarah Layman defeated Cherry Creek’s Caitlain Schnell and Steph McCauley 6-1, 6-2 to win the second state title on the day for the Chargers, who finished third in the team standings behind Cherry Creek and Ponderosa.

Lutes, who had been a bridesmaid in two previous seasons with Ali Grush, was pleased to end her career on top.

“It’s nice to finally leave the final day of state with a smile,” Lutes said. “We’ve put in so much work, it’s great to have it pay off this way.”

Layman, who after some shuffling of the lineups by coach Jeni Weimer, didn’t play with Lutes permanently until midway through the season. She was happy to assist Lutes in winning the title.

“I really wanted to win it for her,” said Layman, a junior. “We just meshed well. We pump each other up and she pushed me to play my best tennis. It’s been great being partners with Dani.”

Grush, playing No. 3 doubles with Sara Palmer, added another second-place finish to her resume as the Chargers fell to Sam Henry and Nikki Oetter of Cherry Creek, 6-3, 6-2.

Anna Gleave and Kimberly Arfsten lost to Cherry Creek’s Lexi Pollet and Jana Valvchova in three sets in the No. 4 doubles final.

Lindsey Sanders had the deepest run of the three singles players from Chatfield. Sanders placed fourth at No. 2 singles. Younger sister Ashley, a junior, reached the quarterfinals at No. 3 singles before being knocked into the playback bracket, where she lost to Brooke Plumley of Fort Collins.

Kelsey Brading was upset by Deanna Thirkell of Lewis-Palmer in the opening round, falling in three sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Colleen Smith was the lone player from Columbine to qualify for the state tournament. Smith, playing No. 3 singles, lost her opening round match to Niki Taylor of Lewis-Palmer in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2.

Dakota Ridge’s No. 4 doubles team of Kristen Schulze and Kennidi White lost in three sets to Kayle Artino and Sara Martin of Fairview, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.