Boys State Tennis Preview


Kirsten Boyer

Head Coach Nick Salazar intently watches a match. He guided the Boulder High varsity tennis team to a 7-2 record this season and a chance for players to compete in Friday’s state match.

Nate Spillman, senior, reaches for a backhand against Legacy. Spillman will be playing number three singles at states this Friday. (Kirsten Boyer)

Boulder High’s boys varsity tennis team is locked in ahead of their state match this Saturday. Head coach Nick Salazar has guided Boulder High’s number three singles player and numbers one, two and three doubles teams to a qualification for the state competition which will start this weekend. Nate Spillman (12), Boulder High’s number three singles player, will walk onto the court at 10:15 a.m., Friday, Sept. 25 at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver to trade shots with Fossil Ridge’s number three. Boulder’s number one doubles pair, Ty Chandler (11) / Ezra Doherty (10), will also play at 10:15 a.m., facing off against Regis Jesuit’s number one team. The Panthers’ number two and three teams consisting of student athletes Alex Sutherland (12) / Agi Willis (9) and Danny Benjamin (10) / Will Curl (10), will have a little longer to wait before their matches kick off at 11:30 a.m. on Friday against Valor Christian’s number two and number three pairs. 

A single-elimination bracket system will be in place, with semifinals and finals being played on Saturday. This weekend will be the culmination of an all-around fantastic season for the team, which coach Salazar said was due in large part to the efforts of his players. “The number one thing above all of this, is that it’s the kids who make it possible,” Salazar said about the success the team found this season, adding that “[the coaches] are just there to support them. The kids are the ones who want to go out and learn the game.” The 2020 season was Salazar’s second as head coach and marked a huge turnaround for the program, which finished 0-9 overall in 2019. 2020 was a new can of balls, however, and offseason work paired with fresh, talented faces on the varsity team saw the Panthers holding a 7-2 record when the regular season wrapped up on September 3. 

Junior Ty Chandler winds up for a serve against Mountain View. He’ll join sophomore Ezra Doherty to play as Boulder’s number one doubles pair in their state draw on Friday. (Kirsten Boyer)

Salazar did admit that this year wasn’t without bumps in the road. “Fairview was difficult on varsity’s end,” he said, referring to the tough late-season loss the varsity program took at the hands of the Knights. Salazar preferred to focus on the year’s positives, though, saying that “overall, JV and varsity had an extraordinary season.” When asked how he was feeling about the upcoming state competition, coach Salazar was undeniably excited. “It’s a great opportunity for the Boulder boys,” he said. Salazar encouraged watchers to keep an eye on all of Boulder’s matchups, saying that all the slots that Boulder qualified players for are going to be sources of good competition. “The best tennis teams and players in the state of Colorado are there,” Salazar said, and told me that his players will be “ready to go out there swinging.” Even through a Zoom call, his energy was palpable. “Tennis is one of those sports where you go out [to play,] and anyone can be beaten on any given day. It’s just who wants it more,” he said. With the high energy, aggressive mindset that they’ll be sure to have and a coach like that behind them, expect big things to be coming out of Boulder High’s tennis players this weekend.