Reicks, Morgan to play for third at state
DENVER — Charlie Reicks, Sam Morgan and the rest of the Grand Junction boys tennis team remember quite vividly how much it stung to be sent home from the state meet a day early in 2008.
This year, Reicks and Morgan wanted to make sure the Tigers enjoyed an extra night in Denver, a goal the seniors accomplished with a gritty performance Friday at the Class 5A state tennis finals.
Despite a disappointing loss Friday morning in the semifinals of the No. 1 doubles draw against the team that handed Reicks and Morgan their only defeat of the regular season, the Tigers rebounded to post an afternoon victory in the playback bracket to advance to the third-place match today at the Gates Tennis Center.
“Last year was pretty disappointing when we had no one playing in the finals and we just had to leave early,” Morgan said. “It definitely is a lot better to be here for that last day. The whole team wanted us here on the last day, and stay one more night and hang out.”
Reicks and Morgan were in danger of sending the entire team back to the Western Slope after a 6-1, 6-2 semifinal loss against the Cherry Creek High School team of Brian Maierhofer and Doug Kierstead. The Bruins also defeated Reicks and Morgan at the Western Slope Invitational earlier in the year, and the Tigers were unable to get on track against the Creek team.
“That was really hard. You really want to win the semifinal match,” Reicks said. “But it was really satisfying to come out and get another win.”
Reicks and Morgan certainly didn’t let the disappointment shackle them.
Competing against the top Denver East doubles team of Kyle Schuster and Daniel Wiener in the playback semifinals, Reicks and Morgan consistently came out on top for many highly-contested points, eventually sweeping the Angels 6-4, 6-4.
The experience of the Tigers’ seniors, both of whom are playing in their fourth state tournament, appeared to make a difference against Schuster and Wiener, both sophomores. While Reicks and Morgan kept an even keel throughout the match, Schuster and Wiener seemingly grew frustrated at errant shots, narrow out-of-bounds calls, and the Tigers’ enthusiastic cheering section.
Reicks and Morgan will face the Fairview tandem of Chris Cartwright and Johnny Combs in the third-place match this morning.
“I think the experience factor did come in,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “My kids are always very calm and don’t let too many things rattle them.
“We’ve played this East team. This was the third time. We knew going into it that it would be a tough match just because of what we’ve seen before.
“We knew we could rile those guys up just because they have that type of temperament. My kids don’t.
“I know those kids didn’t like us cheering and a lot of things got to them. That’s experience and being able to use that mental game to your advantage, which our kids did.”
Central’s No. 1 doubles team of Matt Champlin and Kurt Faller lost 6-2, 6-3 to the Heritage team of Dillon McNamara and J.B. Blair, and Fruita Monument’s No. 3 singles player, junior Antonio Pestello, lost 7-6 (7-2), 6-0 to McKay Inman of Pine Creek.
In the Class 4A tournament in Pueblo, Steamboat Springs ended the day in seventh place with 15 team points. The Sailors’ lone spot still alive Friday was the No. 4 doubles team of Kyle Rogers and Gabri Erspamer. The pair made it into the semifinals but fell to Kent Denver’s David Karpas and Alec Lee 6-2, 6-3. Rogers and Erspamer play Nathan Liston and Tanner Trace of Fossil Ridge in the third-place match.