No. 1 doubles team wins noisy battle; GJ qualifies for state in six flights
Are you here to yell or play tennis, Broomfield?
Ian Hegstrom and Matt Miller admitted they were a little annoyed by the loud vocalization of emotion coming from Broomfield’s Peter Hristoff and Caleb Penner during their Class 5A Region 4 championship match at No. 1 doubles Friday.
The Grand Junction duo had prepared to win a tennis match at the Elliott Tennis Center, not a yelling contest. In the end, they won both as their amplified response to Broomfield’s shouts served to raise their intensity and carry them to a 6-2, 6-4 win and a berth in the next week’s 5A state tournament.
They will be joined there by eight of their teammates as the Tigers had a banner day, qualifying two of their three singles players and all four of their doubles teams, with regional titles claimed in three of the flights.
“We really raised our intensity,” said Hegstrom, a senior who has qualified for the state tournament twice before in doubles. “There was a lot of yelling and screaming.”
Especially in the closer second set, both teams aired their emotions upon winning points, leading Hegstrom to add, “I might have won the scream battle. I think I hurt my voice box a bit.”
But it was worth it, he said, because “it definitely helped my intensity.”
Miller said he and Hegstrom got down on themselves a bit when they fell behind 2-1 in the second set, but they had the appropriate response.
“We just had to stay focused throughout,” said Miller, a junior who also qualified for state in doubles as a sophomore. “We definitely played with a lot of emotion.”
“We tried to remain as intense and positive as possible,” Hegstrom added. “They got a little louder than us, and we decided we could beat them in the yell battle.”
Both laughed about the noisy turn of events in their match, but now they won’t rule out adding it to their repertoire at state, which is Thursday through Saturday next week at Gates Tennis Center in Denver.
Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott noticed the improved play from Miller and Hegstrom as their intensity rose.
“They’ve had their ups and downs with confidence,” Elliott said. “(This week) they were playing with confidence. It was nice to see that intensity because they work a lot better together when they show that intensity on the court.”
Standing in stark contrast to the Tigers’ No. 1 doubles team was their No. 2 doubles team, the cool combination of senior Sam Shaver and junior Ryan Bowen, a first-year tandem but a pair of state-tournament veterans in doubles.
With the morning’s third-place matches complete, Shaver and Bowen knew they were going to state, win or lose in the final. Of course, the preferred way to go to state is as the regional champion, and the Tigers’ tandem took a relaxed approach to defeating Broomfield’s Coby Babcock and Jack Vandenberg 6-2, 6-4.
“Even when they got a roll (in the second set), we stayed relaxed,” Shaver said.
Perhaps Shaver was a little more relaxed than his teammate, as Bowen said the teams took turns breaking each other’s serves early.
“I was a bit worried because they were always on our tail,” he said. “Then, I thought, it’s OK if we lose a few points. Just relax and get the next game.”
Shaver said the reminder they needed was simple: “Just hit the ball on the court.”
Grand Junction’s other regional champion was No. 1 singles player Jacob Lapkin, who triumphed 6-2, 6-4 over Broomfield senior Grant Wood, a two-time state qualifier in doubles.
Lapkin said his play was not sharp Friday, but he had the backup plan and mentality to prevail.
“It was kind of an off day for me, and when that’s the case, I try to get a lot of spin and hit it deep,” said Lapkin, who qualified for state at No. 1 singles as a freshman and sophomore for the Tigers, then spent his junior year in California to attend a tennis academy.
He also said putting his first serve in was important, although he didn’t do that as well as he wanted.
“He didn’t really get in rhythm today, but he was able to dig deep,” Elliott said.
The remaining Grand Junction state qualifiers finished second in their flights: freshman Cal Hegstrom at No. 2 singles; Sam Welling and Colton Prout at No. 3 doubles; and Tommy Mahre and Elijah Crick at No. 4 doubles.
Neither Central nor Fruita Monument qualified players to state, but each came close.
Central’s Bryce Atchison won his third-place match at No. 1 singles to force a playback against Broomfield’s Wood, who won 6-3, 6-3.
The Wildcats’ Peyton Harmon and Brandon Lovato at No. 1 doubles and Colton Reimer and Jon Blair at No. 2 doubles won third-place matches to get playbacks. Both duos lost close, straight-set matches.