Editor's note: The Durango Herald recently selected its Prep Players of the Year based on a unanimous decision between sports editor John Livingston and sports writer Joe Fries.Bayfield High School freshman Mavis Edwards was one of the final two Colorado High School Activities Association 4A No. 1 singles girls tennis players left standing at the 2017 state tennis tournament.
Edwards, who plays for Durango High School because Bayfield doesn't have a tennis program, reached the state championship match at No. 1 singles. In the title match, the freshman was paired against Kent Denver sophomore Josie Schaffer - a freshman phenom and 4A state champion in 2016. Edwards gave Schaffer the best match of any player all week, but came up on the losing end of a 6-1, 6-2 match.
The championship match was just the second the freshman had lost all season. As the state runner-up, Edwards was named to the CHSAA 4A All-State First Team. She was also one of two freshman on the 23-4 Intermountain League champion Bayfield varsity volleyball team. For her extraordinary accomplishments on both courts, Edwards has been named the The Durango Herald Freshman of the Year.
"I'm actually really surprised because I just never thought I'd have a chance at anything like this," Edwards said. "The season started with me not knowing anyone at the first practice. It was a big change being on a tennis team and it brought out a different person in me. I was interacting with so many people I didn't know and they were important to my success. They kept pushing to reach my potential."
Though older siblings Eva-Lou and Fred were standout tennis players, Edwards didn't expect to have the success to come so soon. She steamrolled the opposition and lost just one match in the regular season. She defeated a familiar face in Pueblo West's 2016 state runner up Sara Schoenbeck 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to grab hold of the regional title.
"(Schoenbeck) used to beat me all the time when we were little," Edwards said. "She's really good and I didn't think I could beat her. When I did, I was like 'OK, I'm getting better' and then I had to play her again."
With the regional title in her back pocket, Edwards began the state tournament with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Lewis-Palmer's Emma Gaydos and followed up with a 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 victory against Discovery Canyon's Mattie Kuntzelman in the quarterfinals.
Next up was Schoenbeck, again. Edwards found a hole in her opponent's game and exploited it en route to a 6-4, 6-2 win and a berth in the CHSAA 4A state title match.
"I noticed that she had a small weakness," Edwards said. "I just kept hitting it to that weak spot and it worked out for me. She's super good and she hits it so hard, so I was surprised that I beat her twice."
Edwards came up short in the championship, but she will likely be back for another shot at the state title down the road in her high school career.
"Mavis has had the benefit of coming from a very talented tennis family," Durango head coach Daniella Phillis said. "Beyond that, she brings her own power and mental strength to the court. I think she has tremendous potential to keep impressing us on the high school scene and college if that's what she chooses."