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State championships should never be taken for granted. They are just too hard to attain.
Twin sisters Eliza and Nicole Hill, however, have been on two state championship teams in the last 12 months.
Eliza won the state’s No. 2 singles tennis championship for Cherry Creek last spring at the state tennis tournament. Nicole captured the No. 3 singles title and helped the Bruins win the state team title.
Then, last month the sisters were on the Bruins’ Class 5A state championship girls basketball team.
“It felt amazing, it was so different in basketball,” said Eliza. “For Creek, that was the first state basketball championship. It was such an amazing feeling and my teammates were incredible. For tennis, it was really exciting too, but we’ve been doing that for 35 years.”
According to Nicole, the team aspect of basketball is a big difference from tennis.
“Basketball was really, really fun,” she said. “It was more special to win it in basketball, because in tennis it was really special for me to win an individual title and a team title, but it is so much harder in basketball and there were so many good teams this year.
“Highlands Ranch, Grandview, Valor Christian and Regis were really strong. It was special because Cherry Creek has never won a girls state basketball title. In tennis we’ve won 35 state titles. Just to make history in basketball was pretty special. I couldn’t stop smiling for two weeks after winning the basketball state championship.”
Eliza played in 22 games for the basketball team, averaging 1.5 points and 2.4 rebounds. Nicole suffered a concussion in practice and played in just 16 games while averaging 1.4 points and 1.6 rebounds.
Nicole hopes to be cleared to play tennis later this spring.
“I have to be honest with you,” said Nicole. “Eliza and I were very, very proud benchwarmers this season. I would say I am better at tennis than basketball but I really love both sports.
“Both are so different but each of them have such amazing qualities that helps the other. Like footwork in basketball helps me stay in shape for tennis and be able to handle all that. And the mental game in tennis is super helpful for basketball.”
Eliza and Nicole, the 6-foot-1 sophomores, started playing tennis when they were young but it took some prodding to play organized basketball since the Hill family lived in Madrid, Spain for over a decade.
“My whole family are tennis players so I started playing ever since I could hold a racket,” explained Eliza. “We grew up in Spain. And in Spain it is a little bit different. Not many people are student athletes. You are either going to become an athlete and go pro or maybe get a scholarship and go play Division I tennis in the U.S. or you are going to be a really good student.
“My parents didn’t want that. They grew up in the U.S. and they wanted us to play sports as well as be athletes. There wasn’t a basketball team but Mom went around talking to every single girl and parent that we knew asking them if they would play basketball. We started a girls basketball team. That was in third grade and I’ve been playing ever since.”
And winning state titles in two sports.
Some quick area updates about individuals and teams:
Douglas County pitcher Case Williams tossed a seven-inning no-hitter in a 5-0 baseball win over Cherokee Trail on March 27. The 6-foot-2 junior struck out 11 batters and walked one … Cherry Creek’s 200 freestyle, 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams recorded the best times at the Dick Rush Memorial Invite swimming meet on March 23 with respective times of 1:28.27, 1:36.43 and 3:10.17 … Arapahoe’s girls soccer team started the season with a 6-0 record and outscored opponents 22-2 in those half-dozen matches. Senior Audrey Weiss was tied for the Centennial League goals lead with six while junior keeper Jayden Staab has not allowed a goal in the four games in which she has played … Ralston Valley’s baseball team headed into the month of April with eight games having already been played. Mustangs’ seniors Trey Adams and Otto Jones are the top hitters in the 5A Jeffco League with batting averages of .522 and .517, respectively. Senior Calvin Hunt is the league leader in strikeouts with 25 in 16.2 innings pitched.
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