Nordstrom enjoys tough competition at 18 singles

Jesi Nordstrom returns a shot to Tanner McKenzie on Friday in an 18 singles match during the McDonald’s Junior Tennis Tournament at Elliott Tennis Center. Nordstrom could have played in 16 singles.

The goal of the McDonald’s Junior Tennis tournament is to have players challenging themselves.

Friday at the Elliott Tennis Center at Mesa State College, many players challenged themselves by moving up into older age brackets, with others entering their first tournament.

Last year’s 16-and-under singles champion, Jesi Nordstrom, moved up into the boys 18 singles division.

Nordstrom, 16, could have played in the 16-year-old division, but chose to try his luck in the 18 bracket.

“With everyone that was playing up, I thought it would be good competition,” Nordstrom said. “I knew it wouldn’t be as good of competition in the 16s and it would be more worth my time for the learning process to be in the 18s.”

Nordstrom started his run in the 18s with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Tanner McKenzie. Nordstrom plays in the semifinals at 9:30 this morning against Parker Hegstrom.

“It’s going to take a lot of consistency to do well in the 18s,” Nordstrom said. “There are some really good players.”

Nordstrom spent the fall of 2010 as the No. 1 singles player at Central High School, and had his struggles.

“I didn’t do very well and was mentally flustered all season,” Nordstrom said. “I can’t remember my record; it was awful.”

After a tough high school season, Nordstrom is focused on improving by playing older competition.

“It will benefit my future to play kids that have a lot of experience,”  Nordstrom said. “Now at the 18s, the consistency skyrockets and it’s a different game.”

Tournament director Ron Elliott encourages players to play up if they can.

“I like to see them climb the ladder,” Elliott said. “I’ll say, ‘Why don’t you just bump up a level? You might lose, but you’ll learn more from that than winning your bracket and not having much competition.’ “

In today’s other 18 singles semifinal match today, Luke Ledebur plays Tate Hegstrom. The finals are at 9:30 Sunday morning.

Parker Hegstrom graduated from Grand Junction High School in May, but decided to play in one more McDonald’s Junior tournament. He’s always approached Elliott’s tournament as a way to grow as a player.

“It’s a time to come out and push yourself,” Hegstrom said. “It’s not during a season where losses count, so it’s a fun tournament where you can challenge yourself and play people that might be two years older than you.”

Caleb Gartner reached the semifinals of the boys 16s with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Randy Hurshman.

Carolina Campos defeated Carsyn Fritzler 6-4, 6-4 in the girls 16 singles, and Anne Hughes defeated Stephanie Skinner 6-3, 6-2 in the girls 18 singles.

“Ever since I started this tournament it was all about ‘Let’s get better,’ ” Elliott said, “so when the high school season starts, you are at least one level better than you were before.”


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