Dakota Ridge snuffs Columbine

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By Alissa Noe

LITTLETON — A little tendonitis wasn’t going to stop Peyton Hamel.
In a matchup between Dakota Ridge’s No. 1 singles player and Columbine’s Jamie Chase on Tuesday at Marker Park, Hamel started out strong and wavered a bit in the middle of the competition before putting Chase away quickly in the final game.
Hamel continued her undefeated streak as she went on to win, 6-4, 6-4.
Despite her early success, she’s had her fair share of struggles, and it showed at times against Chase.
“I think this one was pretty rough considering I have tendonitis in my elbow and my shoulder, so I’m still recovering. I’ve had it since last May. It went away during the fall, but now it’s come back,” Hamel said. “I have to relearn a new serve, and I’m still working on it. Hopefully, that’ll come around before regionals.”
From start to finish, the match could have swung either way, but Chase just couldn’t quite out-muscle her friend. But as a player new to the No. 1 singles position, she’s happy with how she performed.
“I think we were very evenly-matched. We stayed in each game, and it was 4-6, 4-6. It was a good match, and I think we both played very well,” Chase said. “I think she’s a very strong player, and she hits very hard shots, so I was just trying to stay in every point and focus on each shot.”
In the match, the Eagles defeated the Rebels 5-2.


Dakota Ridge
So far this year, the Eagles are off to a strong start.
“We played several 4A teams the first couple matches and we did well,” head coach Rusty Watson said. “It helped us gain some confidence. We went to the (Grand) Junction tournament, and there were 16 good teams there. I think that was a good measure of where we’re at and what we need to work on. It was tough competition, but it was also good for the girls to see what they need to work on.”
Watson noted that much of the team’s strength lies in the No. 1 and No. 2 singles players, Hamel and Kellie Geschwentner.
The Eagles, comprised of mostly sophomores and juniors, have been able to live up to the expectations.
“I thought that we would be able to hang with Columbine, so I think for me, it was going to be really interesting to see how we did,” Watson said. “I thought that we would be close to them, and you never know until you show up.”

Coming into this season, Columbine head coach Kelley Pickens wasn’t sure where her team would stand.
With only four of 11 players returning from last year’s squad and all of her singles players new to the position, Pickens admitted she was nervous going into tryouts. But, as the season has progressed, they’ve seemed to ease her worries.
“I think when you play people you perceive to be better, you start playing better, so I think they’ve kind of gotten the jitters out of their system and they’re starting to play a little bit more of their own game,” Pickens said. “I think everyone’s improved a lot since the beginning of the season.”
As a team, the Rebels earned second place during a mid-March tournament, where the No. 2, 3 and 4 doubles all got wins. The talent is there; they just need to keep working up their confidence.
“Tennis is such a mental game,” Pickens said. “Sometimes you psych yourself out, so I think if they can realize their own potential, I’m really interested to see how they do at regionals, and if they go to state, I’m pretty excited.”

No. 1 singles: Peyton Hamel (DRHS) def. Jamie Chase (CHS): 6-4, 6-4
No. 2 singles: Kellie Geschwentner (DRHS) def. Kelsey Akins (CHS): 7-6, 6-4
No. 3 singles: Katie Ivy (DRHS) def. Lauren Laing (CHS): 7-6, 6-2
No. 1 doubles: Anni Rotter and Ali Hernandez (CHS) def. Haley Morris and Gabby Dimmitt (DRHS): 6-3, 7-5
No. 2 doubles: Laura Hurd and Paige Zickerman (DRHS) def. Lily Mavis and Taylor Tesch (CHS): 3-6, 7-6, 6-1
No. 3 doubles: Erin Baumgarten and Claudia Wilson (CHS) def. Kelly Ton and Ashley Morris (DRHS): 6-4, 6-3
No. 4 doubles: Brynn Powell and Hannah Bullinger (DRHS) def. Theresa Troung and Eve Allin (CHS): 4-6, 6-3, 6-1