Tigers place two doubles teams in 5A semifinals
DENVER — Grand Junction’s Matt Friesen was feeling a bit frustrated during Thursday’s first-round action with his No. 3 doubles partner, Darius Fugere, in the Class 5A state tennis tournament.
But at the end of the day, the twosome was feeling just fine after advancing into today’s semifinals at the Gates Tennis Center.
However, the duo could only wish to have more company as the tournament enters its second day.
As it turned out, Friesen and Fugere, along with the No. 2 doubles team of Jake Frankhouser and Greg Coleman, were the only Tigers to move into today’s action that begins at 9 a.m.
However, Grand Junction could have a few more positions returning in the playbacks if the players they lost to win their semifinal matches.
Friesen and Fugere split their opening two sets against Mountain Vista’s Tom Johnson and Brian Shin. It took a bit longer than the duo had hoped and it took a rebound effort to survive. They lost the first set 3-6, but came back to take the next two, 6-2, 6-4. But, oh, that third set.
Grand Junction led 5-3 and Friesen was serving for the match — or was he? As it turned out,
Friesen served with match point on the line six times. But Johnson and Shin kept forcing deuce or gaining the add-out points. The Tigers eventually lost the game, giving new life to the Mountain Vista duo.
However, in the next game, Friesen and Fugere finally pulled out the win.
“It just went on forever,” Friesen said. “I was really tired toward the end and I was just trying to get the ball over and inbounds somewhere. I usually have problems with double-faulting, but I just didn’t have that problem today, until late. But they kept getting the ball back, too, with some fine shots. It was kind of interesting that they served the seventh match point.”
It was much smoother sailing in the quarterfinals, as Fugere and Friesen defeated Jamie Urbana and J.J. Westcott of Denver East, 6-1 6-3. They play Alex Gnaegy and Luke Kiniry of Regis for the opportunity to play for the championship Saturday.
Cherry Creek, which is seeking its 36th championship in 38 years, and Regis lead in the team race with 12 points each. Grand Junction is tied for sixth with George Washington with six points.
Frankhouser and Coleman reached the semifinals after beating David Kaminky and Zach Travis of Chaparral 6-2, 6-2 and Kevin Shroads and Barrett Hubrensen of Denver East in the quarterfinals, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. However, a tough road lies ahead as they must beat Cherry Creek’s unbeaten duo of Brian Maierhofer and Reid Spitz for a chance to play for the title.
“I felt we came out real strong and I was happy with how the kids played,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “We got five teams into state and being able to win four of the first five (first-round matches) was a big victory for us. We had some hiccups in the second round. Our No. 1 doubles did not come out and play very well against Creek and I thought they could do better against them.
Hopefully we will get a playback there.”
The Tigers’ No. 1 doubles tandem of Sam Morgan and Charlie Reicks beat Seth Grotelueschen and Slater White of Air Academy 6-0, 6-0, but lost to Zach Chernow and Joel Lowinger of Cherry Creek. They appear to be a good bet to get back into action today.
However, it does not look as good for Central’s Tom Morrison, who lost to George Washington’s Calvin Ward, 6-0, 6-4. The reason? Ward has to beat Cherry Creek’s defending state champion Connor Macey.
Austin Krebill and James D’Anabelle, Central’s No. 1 doubles team, lost to Cass Krughoff and Blake Wetherbee of Fairview, 6-1, 6-0. They could get back if Fairview beats Regis at their position.
However, Grand Junction’s Gabriel Campos and Luke Ledebur, at No. 4 doubles, lost to Simon Lee and Pawel Janas of Boulder, 6-2, 6-4. They are out because the Panthers then lost to Cherry Creek in the quarterfinals.
The chances are also pretty good that Chad Hotimsky and Josh Weedon of Fruita Monument at No. 4 doubles could return to action today. They lost to Jordan Brisch and Will Woodward of Regis in first round, 6-3, 6-0, but the Raiders’ duo has an excellent chance of reaching the finals.
By SCOTT STOCKER