GJ qualifies entire team for 5A state tennis tournament
Gabe Campos had a lot of catching up to do when the high school boys tennis season started.
The Grand Junction High School senior spent most of the summer visiting family in Nicaragua and didn’t play tennis for several months.
Although Campos, a four-year letterwinner, dropped two positions to No. 3 doubles, he caught up quickly, teaming with fellow senior Jeff Hansen to win Campos’ fourth regional title Friday at the Elliott Tennis Center. By winning the Class 5A Region 5 title, they qualify for the Class 5A state championships next week at Gates Tennis Center in Denver.
“It is a big deal,” Campos said. “It means a lot to go four years and win first place (at regionals) all four years. I know it means a lot to Jeff, who worked hard after starting on JV (as a freshman). I’m proud of both of us.”
Grand Junction won all four doubles titles and the No. 1 singles title to win the team title with 76 points. The Tigers’ entire team qualified for state.
“It’s always our goal to win regionals,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “The kids played well. We started off slow at times, but we battled and got some confidence going and finished strong.”
Legend took second place with 62 points. The Titans had champions at No. 2 and 3 singles and qualified their No. 1 singles, No. 1 and 4 doubles teams for state.
Fruita Monument took third with 33 points and qualified its No. 2 and 3 doubles teams of Matt Scofield and Nick Rutan and Randy Hurshman and Scott Nolan. All four players qualified for state for the first time.
“Both of them pulled through in a third set (in the semifinals),” Fruita coach Clint Davis said. “Three doubles, the freshmen, were down 5-2 in the third set then 4-1 in the tiebreaker. That is super incredibly clutch for freshmen. They’ve improved a lot.”
Fruita Monument’s No. 3 singles player, Matt Harris, took third along with the Wildcats’ No. 1 and 4 doubles teams.
Central placed fourth with 10 points. No. 2 singles player Drake Giese took third place with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 victory.
Campos and Hansen played so well, they stayed out of potential trouble, defeating Fruita Monument’s Hurshman and Nolan 6-3, 6-1 in the final.
“(The Wildcats) came out strong and had nothing to lose,” Hansen said. “We had to absorb that and go back to counter-punching.
“We wanted to get a lot of balls back. At the beginning when we were doing that they were getting all our tough shots, so we had to put the ball away and finish the points.”
Grand Junction No. 1 singles player and defending state champion Spencer Weinberg wore down Legend’s Jake Sheldon 6-1, 6-1 in the region final.
“The strategy was to go out and grind the point down,” Weinberg said. “I feel our conditioning is superior. I felt good.”
The Tigers’ No. 2 duo of Max Proietti and Daniel Ness defeated Scofield and Rutan 6-4, 6-2.
The No. 1 doubles team of Jake Filutze and Caleb Gartner had to rally from a set down to defeat Legend 6-7, 6-1, 6-1 as did the No. 4 duo of Aaron Gossage and Matt Prinster in a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory.
Grand Junction No. 2 singles player Luke Ledebur and No. 3 singles player Tate Hegstrom took second place to qualify.
Joe Nunez can now say he qualified for the state tennis championships, just like his two older brothers and cousin.
The Montrose High School senior defeated Steamboat Springs’ Colin Green 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 to win the Region 8 No. 3 singles title at Canyon View Park.
“It feels good, especially being my senior year,” Nunez said. “I’ve been waiting to qualify for state for four years now.”
He will be joined by the Indians’ No. 3 duo of Chancey Dunn and Alex McMichael and the No. 4 team of Nick George and Rusty Penasa.
George and Penasa, both seniors, won the regional title with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Aspen.
Aspen’s Bryan Mehall defeated rival Jimmy Swiggart, Jr., 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4) in the No. 1 singles final.
Steamboat Springs won its 14th consecutive team title. The Sailors had one singles champion and three doubles champions.