DENVER — Every time they were close to closing out the match, the excitement from Erinn Hogan and Lindsey Noble started to bubble up.
They couldn’t hide their smiles, but there was still a job to do.
In the Class 5A state title match at No. 3 doubles, Fossil Ridge High School’s Hogan and Noble took a 1-0 set lead on Denver East’s Kate and Kelly Wulf. Hogan and Noble had all but clinched the championship, up 5-1 in the second set, but the Wulfs fought back to 5-4.
Finally the Fossil Ridge pair closed out the win with a Denver East shot into the net, leaping into each other’s arms in celebration before quickly being mobbed by their teammates.
“Watching the ball go into the net was honestly the best feeling ever,” Hogan said after the 6-4, 6-4 win at Gates Tennis Center. “It was like, ‘Wow, I’m first in state at my position.’”
It was a stellar finish to a superb season. They juniors had never played together before, but seem to have a perfect chemistry, with teammates joking about how in-tune with each other they are.
That cohesion paid off when they held off the late Denver East rally.
“I was like, ‘We need to do this. We need to be aggressive and finish this,’” Noble said. “It felt so amazing.”
Both said they never imaged winning the title, but their families did. They had pre-printed banners crowning them champions and the whole team signed them after the match.
While Noble and Hogan were fighting for their title, two Poudre single players were chasing their own.
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Sophomore Ky Ecton was center court, playing for the No. 1 singles title. She came up short, losing 6-4, 6-1 to Seraphin Castelino of Fairview.
Despite the defeat, her head was held high after the run to the title match.
“It was very cool for me. I’ve been working really hard to do it and I’m very proud of myself, but I’m also really proud to represent my school and my team,” said Ecton, who lost in the second round at No. 1 singles last year. “That’s what I’ve been working for and I got to do it today.”
About 50 feet away from Ecton’s match, the Impalas’ No. 2 singles player Alessia Fabiano was playing for a state title against Cherry Creek’s Micha Handler.
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Fabiano lost 6-1, 6-1. While the result was disappointing, the tournament wasn’t. Fabiano is a foreign exchange student from Italy and was thrilled to compete in the team environment.
“I’ve never done something like that … It was really exciting to play state,” Fabiano said. “It was really fun to get to the final for myself, but also for my team.”
Poudre coach Laura Ecton, Ky’s mom, said it was the first time since 1993 Poudre had two players in title matches.
Poudre finished fourth as a team in the 5A standings with 29 points. Fossil Ridge was sixth with 18. Fairview won the title with 69.
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.