For years, Pueblo West was the gold standard with the South-Central League girls tennis world.

But for the second straight season, Pueblo County has made green and gold the standard.

Monday, County, which has emerged as somewhat of a 3A tennis power, knocked off 4A Pueblo West 5-2 in their rivalry dual at Pueblo West High School.

Barring losses to Centennial and South in duals taking place in the next couple weeks, County will win its second straight S-CL Championship.

"It's super cool," County's one-singles player, Erin Mauro, said. "You want to win as a team and it's so much better (than winning individually). It's a different feeling and a special feeling."

Though tennis is an indvidual sport, league duals give a chance for players to band together for the team.

And for the Hornets, the spectre of Pueblo West is more than enough motivation to come out with guns blazing.

"This dual is always fun to watch," County head coach Ken Osborne said. "For six or seven years, we took a beating, but the last couples years, things have changed and today we were able to win again."

County was strong at the top of its lineup in both the singles and doubles positions, carried by Mauro at one-singles.

Mauro, who reached the second round of the 3A state tournament last season, faced Jordan Hunt, a junior-varsity player who only took up Pueblo West's one-singles spot after the Cyclones' number-one, Alyssa Stevenson, was stranded in New Mexico with her family due to weekend travel complications.

It robbed Mauro of a good match, as she only needed an hour to beat Hunt 6-1, 6-1.

Mauro's mere presence at the top of the lineup helped give the whole team what it took to get the win, spreading talent throughout the lineup.

"She does so much," Osborne said. "The fact that it lets everybody else play a position they're more comfortable with, she takes all that pressure off. She's got it, she knows it, and she leads by example."

County notched wins at three-singles as Kinley Gomez, a double state champion last season, overcame a second-set loss to Elyssa Mielke to win in three sets, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.

It all spread down to the doubles positions, where County won three of four, including the two-doubles match, in which Mikayla DeCarlo and Atley Kleven engineered a first-set comeback and rode to victory in a 7-5, 6-3 win over Meagan Cosby and Sherri Wood.

County was ready to put in the performance it did all week long, Osborne said.

"The last week, that's all we talked about," Osborne said. "We have Pueblo West on Monday and we're ready, and that's the same mindset we have going into state (next month)."

Pueblo West, a storied tennis program that turned in top-five finishes at state every season from 2014-17, is hoping to parlay Monday's loss into a learning opportunity for next month's regionals, in which the Cyclones are favorites to win.

"They've gotten us two years in a row," Pueblo West head coach Sam Pisciotta said, "and they've got a good team with seven strong seniors and that's hard to beat. But these are the kinds of matches you want to see, to test their mettle and expose some of your weaknesses."

asandstrom@chieftain.com

Twitter: @ASandstromView