DENVER – It was a different format and a different route, but the result was the same for Cheyenne Mountain as it claimed the Class 4A girls tennis team title for the second year in a row.

Unlike last year, however, the team title was claimed in dual fashion as tennis adopted a new format for the 2022-23 season. The Red-Tailed Hawks beat Mullen 5-2 to capture the team crown. Like the boys in the fall, teams battled through a team bracket in dual fashion with the finals held at Denver City Park.

The Cheyenne Mountain boys were swept in the dual final by Kent Denver in October, but the girls thrived in their first attempt, leaving Denver with a first-place trophy.

“This was so much more fun,” coach Dave Adams said. “You didn’t see a lot of [a full team celebration] in Pueblo last weekend. This is so much fun to see everyone in it together and fighting for each other out there.”

The Red-Tailed Hawks got on the board with Saffron Heroldt’s win at No. 3 doubles and stretched that lead to 2-0 after Jocelyn Kelly and Rose Katen won their No. 1 doubles match.

That win definitely shifted the energy at City Park and although Mullen’s Lexi Yost got a win in No. 1 singles, the Hawks maintained their momentum with Alyssa Sadri’s win in No. 2 singles.

“The energy is just different,” Sadri said. “Everyone is so much more into it. If you just listen around, the crowds are so much louder.”

And they get louder with each point won by a given team. The south end of the courts erupted in cheer as Brooke Ballenger and Hope Lewis won the No. 2 doubles match to officially clinch the 25th state title in program history.

“We were [aware we could clinch it],” Ballenger said. “Someone told us. I was pretty nervous the entire time, especially in our second set.”

But the excitement soon outweighed the nerves. It was a hectic season to say the least for the Red-Tailed Hawks. Both top singles players from last year transferred out of the program and Adams saw plenty of new faces on the roster this year.

“This was a total surprise for me,” he said. “I’m serious. We had two girls who were juniors that didn’t come back. We got kind of hosed. I thought we had little chance to really compete, but everyone came together down the stretch the season.”

Cheyenne Mountain has either been the state champion or runner-up every season dating back to 2009 – which an exception of course for 2020 where there was no season because of the COVID-19 pandemic – and it’s the buy-in that Adams mentioned that has been the true source of the team’s success.

This is the first time since 2016 and 2017 that the Hawks have won in consecutive years, but that was the end of a run of nine team titles in row.

(Dan Mohrmann/