By Will Petersen
For the Courier
HIGHLANDS RANCH — Lillie Pettibone’s made the 5A girls tennis state tournament before. While the achievement has always been impressive, the credit has been split with a doubles partner. This year, she’s going all on her own.
Pettibone, playing No. 2 singles this season, was the lone state qualifier for Columbine on May 3 at Redstone Park in the Class 5A Region 7 tournament. She won in the playback bracket and will head to the Gates Tennis Center on May 9 to represent the Lady Rebels.
“During the match I kept telling myself ‘this is what you’ve worked hard for.’ It’s really exciting,” Pettibone said.
The match to clinch the state berth was a 6-3, 6-1 win over Arapahoe’s Sarah Shortall. Pettibone lost her first match of the regional to the eventual No. 2 singles champion Megan Blunck of Brighton, but battled her way back through the bottom of the bracket to get a crack at Shortall and the state berth.
While Pettibone will be the only Lady Rebel at state, she came close to being joined by a number of teammates. Columbine’s No. 3 singles, No. 1 doubles and No. 2 doubles all lost playback matches that would’ve earned state berths.
“Considering the season that we had, with the weather and not a lot of practices, the girls exceeded my expectations. They surprised me a bit,” Columbine head coach Dawn Selindh said.
Part of the surprise may have been a third-place team finish in what was considered a very difficult region. The Lady Rebels finished with 29 points, edging out fourth-place Brighton, which scored 27. Fossil Ridge won with 80 points and Arapahoe was second with 57.
“I was excited to finish well as a team at regionals. The outcome was pretty good and to get a girl to state is great,” Selindh said.