Clean sweep: Tigers roll in regionals to qualify entire team for state
Spencer Weinberg didn’t want to let his teammates down.
The Grand Junction High School sophomore rallied from one set down Friday to win the Class 5A Region 8 No. 1 singles title to complete a Tigers sweep at Canyon View Park.
Grand Junction swept all seven singles and doubles titles to win the region team title with a maximum score of 84. The entire team qualified for state next week at Gates Tennis Center in Denver.
“At the beginning of the season we set some goals for ourselves and we believed if we worked hard in practice we could do well at regionals this week,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “The kids were able to do that. It’s great for the team. It’s a close team. We do a great job of picking each other up.”
Fruita Monument took second place with 40 points and qualified two singles players and two doubles teams. Central was sixth with 10 points, but didn’t have any qualifiers.
Weinberg (16-1) rallied to defeat Pine Creek senior McKay Inman 6-7 (3-7), 6-1, 6-0 in an intense match requiring an umpire.
“It took a while for Spencer to get going,” Elliott said. “He was able to mix things up and get him off his game. Spencer is so mentally tough. He can rise his game when he needs to and he is. This is a great stepping stone for him for next week.”
Weinberg’s teammates came to support him early in the second set after they completed their matches, making a big difference for Weinberg.
“My boys supported me,” Weinberg said. “They had my back. He had his team there the first set. They were my inspiration. I knew everybody won. I didn’t want to be the outcast.
“Coach talked to me and said I’ve got to keep the ball in the middle. I stuck to the game plan every shot and came to the net occasionally and let him make the mistakes.”
Grand Junction’s Luke Ledebur defeated Fruita Monument’s Vinny Castellini 6-3, 6-1 in the No. 2 singles final, Parker Hegstrom defeated Fruita’s Cody Iden 6-0, 6-2 for the No. 3 singles title and the Tigers’ No. 1 doubles team of Gabe Campos and Felix Reinermann defeated Fruita’s Ryan Hautzinger and Tanner McKenzie 6-0, 6-3.
The Tigers’ No. 2 duo of Caleb Gartner and Tate Hegstrom won the region title with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Liberty to qualify for state as partners a second consecutive season.
“It’s really cool,” Tate Hegstrom said. “It’s quite a bit of an advantage. The ambience of high school tennis is so much different than regular tennis with teams competing. The best part is we know what each other wants (to do).”
Grand Junction’s No. 3 duo of Jake Filutze and Daniel Ness and No. 4 pair of Jeff Hansen and Matthew Prinster won region titles in straight sets as well.
Castellini, Iden, Hautzinger, McKenzie and the Wildcats’ No. 2 duo of Chazz Lakin and Tucker Fortson qualified for state. Lakin and Fortson took third place but defeated runner-up Liberty for a state berth.
Class 4A Regional
Steamboat Springs No. 1 singles player Keegan Burger (16-1) hung on to defeat Aspen’s Bryan Mehall 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to lead the Sailors to the Class 4A Region 8 team title.
“Mehall is a solid player and great competitor,” Steamboat Springs coach John Aragon said. “For Keegan to beat him twice (this season), he had to play very well.”
Steamboat Springs won the team title with 79 points. The Sailors won six of the seven singles and doubles titles and qualified all but its No. 4 doubles team. The No. 4 doubles team was one point away from reaching the region final and likely qualifying for state.
Aspen took second with 51 points. The Skiers won the No. 4 doubles title and qualified two singles players and three doubles teams for state.
Montrose placed third with 35 points and qualified one singles player and two doubles teams for state next week. It’s the most players the Indians qualified for state in more than 20 years, Montrose coach Travis Hastings said.
“The best athletes don’t always win in tennis,” Montrose coach Travis Hastings said. “The kids that player smarter tennis and work harder win. We played smart tennis.”