The room for error was non-existent.
Down a set and facing match point, Kaitlin Ulbert of Highlands Ranch knew that to keep her match against Heritage’s Kaitline Bos at No. 1 singles going, she had to get a little conservative.
”I didn’t want the match to end on an unforced error,” Ulbert said.
Rather than going for risky winners, Ulbert just played the ball, used conservative groundstrokes to keep rallies alive and then attacked when the moment presented itself.
Her strategy paid off.
She fought off a pair of match points to break Bos’s serve and even the second set at 6-6. In the second set tiebreak, Ulbert fell behind 3-0 and would fight off two more match points and eventually win the tiebreak, 12-10.
”I just had to battle and dig deep,” Ulbert said. ”My confidence went way, way up after the second set.”
Ulbert’s confidence was evident, as she won the first four games of the third and decisive set, and went on to win the set – and match at Heritage High School, 3-6, 7-6 (12-10), 6-2.
”That’s definitely one of the longest matches I’ve played,” said Ulbert of the match, which took nearly three hours to complete. ”It feels great to win, especially against a strong opponent like Kaitline.”
Although Heritage would lose at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, the Eagles swept all four doubles matches and also won at No. 3 singles to win the dual match on April 4 at Heritage High School, 5-2.
For Bos, the loss is something she hopes to learn from.
”I think I can take away some good things from the match,” Bos said. ”I think it’ll help me be stronger mentally if I get into this type of situation again.”
Bos controlled the first set, as she pushed Ulbert across the court with a strong one-handed forehand and wicked two-handed backhand that accounted for several points – including the first set winner.
After falling behind 4-2 in the second set, Bos went on to win four of the next five games to go up 6-5 after breaking Ulbert’s serve. Bos fell behind 0-40 on her next service game, but fought back to deuce and twice was a point away from finishing the match, but was unable to put Ulbert away.
”I think I started to get too aggressive,” Bos said. ”In the beginning of the match, (Ulbert) was more aggressive and I sat back, and then we kind of switched roles.
”It’s frustrating not to win, but it was a great match.”
At No. 2 singles, Francesca Pollio of Highlands Ranch defeated Morgan Gopsill in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5. After that, it was all Heritage, as Amanda Ikard won her match at No. 3 singles, 6-0, 6-0, and all four doubles teams won their respective matches.
Ikard finished second at an early-season tournament in Grand Junction, in which the Eagles finished second in the team standings. Emma Schilling and Alannah Gates won the No. 4 doubles title at that same tournament.
Heritage 5, Highlands Ranch 2
No. 1 singles: Kaitlin Ulbert (HR) def. Kaitline Bos, 3-6, 7-6 (12-10), 6-2
No. 2 singles: Francesca Pollio (HR) def. Morgan Gopsill, 6-3, 7-5
No. 3 singles: Amanda Ikard (Her.) def. Alexa McNaul, 6-0, 6-0
No. 1 doubles: Elisabeth Cuseo/Madeline Mathis (Her.) def. Masha Nevski/Anna Sharp, 6-0, 6-1
No. 2 doubles: Ginny Hancock/Emily Kennel (Her.) def. Brooke Jacobs/Nicole Eiten, 6-4, 6-7 (7-5), 6-1
No. 3 doubles: Rachel Zook/Mollie Gopsill (Her.) def. Michelle Mothorpe/Megan Fryer, 6-2, 6-1
No. 4 doubles: Emma Schilling/Alannah Gates (Her.) def. Kori Snow/Ella Hoskins, 6-0, 6-2