Highlands Ranch senior Hayden Sabatka played all season with a so-called target on his back but there were no tennis players in the state that were able to hit the mark.
However, Sabatka has been tabbed by Colorado Community Media as the Tennis Player of the Year after winning his second consecutive Class 5A No. 1 singles title.
“I heard a lot of people say there was a target on my back,” said Sabatka. “I wasn't really worried. I don't get too stressed out. I just try to stay relaxed and play relaxed.”
Sabatka, who has signed to play next year at the University of New Mexico, didn't lose a set in the past two seasons but claims it was tougher winning his second state title with a 6-3, 6-1 win over 2010 Class 5A champion Spencer Weinberg of Grand Junction.
“The season went pretty well,” he said. “I ended up not losing any matches and being able to get another win at state. The finals this year were harder than last year.
“Spencer really came back strong and really improved his game and it was good to win my last year in high school.”
Highlands Ranch finished second in the regionals and fourth at the state tournament and the Falcons success is something which Sabatka will remember.
“Over the last three years our high school has added many new individual and team trophies to the tennis display case,” said Sabatka. “I have enjoyed the team atmosphere and most recently leading our Highlands Ranch team to a second place regional finish and fourth place at state this year.
“This was Highlands Ranch's highest state finish ever. Tennis is an individual sport outside of playing doubles so playing high school tennis in a team environment is always so much fun for all the players. The accomplishments of individuals help to motivate all team members so most of the team, if not all, starts to excel.”
Sabatka, who has been ranked nationally among the top 100 junior players over the past six years, has been honored by the Douglas County Board of Education for commitment to goals, time management and good grades.
Time management has been and will be a key for Sabatka since top level junior players have to commit to traveling and playing year round in regional and national USGA tournaments.
Colorado Community Media All-Star tennis 2012
Conner McPherson, Cherry Creek
David Mitchell, Kent Denver
Hayden Sabatka, Highlands Ranch
Will Ro, Cherry Creek
David Rosencrans and Mike Rosencrans, Legacy
Hans Bergal and Jace Blackburn, Cherry Creek
Chad Curd and Michael Vartuli, Arapahoe
Connor Petrou and Jake Miller, Cherry Creek