Tigers sweep regional tennis
Several Grand Junction High School tennis players accomplished career firsts.
Together, they completed a rare sweep of the Class 5A Region 8 boys tournament.
The Tigers won the team title with 84 points and qualified the entire team for the state championships next week in Denver.
Central and Mountain Vista tied for second with 30 points. Fruita Monument placed fourth with 28.
“It doesn’t happen often,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “A couple weeks ago, the boys set their goals. They believed they could not only win it, but could win all seven (finals) matches. They worked hard to play for each other. That’s huge. A good team plays for each other.”
Grand Junction’s No. 1 singles player, Spencer Weinberg, and Nos. 3 and 4 doubles teams qualified for state for the first time.
Weinberg, a freshman, defeated Chaparral’s Donovan Wetterstein 6-1, 6-4 for the regional title.
“I want to get as much experience as I can,” Weinberg said. “There is no pressure for me. I’m having a good time with the team.”
Grand Junction’s Parker Hegstrom (No. 2 singles) and Greg Coleman (No. 3 singles) qualified for state in singles for the first time.
Hegstrom defeated Dakota Ridge’s Preston Fugita 6-0, 6-2 in the final.
“I was nervous with what happened last year,” Hegstrom said. “I made the regional final and thought I made it, then lost and lost (in the playback match).
“I worked extremely hard this year. I played some tough players. I had to grind.”
Coleman avenged two losses this season to win a regional title, including a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Fruita Monument’s Antonio Pestello.
“I’m glad I was able to improve after moving up to singles,” Coleman said. “It’s nice to beat them.”
Grand Junction’s No. 3 doubles team of freshmen Caleb Gartner and Tate Hegstrom are following in the footsteps of their brothers. They defeated Fruita’s Ryan Hautzinger and Chad Hotmisky 6-0, 6-0 in the final.
“It’s exciting,” Hegstrom said. “Me and Caleb are good friends. It’s good to have siblings on the team to support you.”
Gartner’s older brother, Owen, was injured earlier this season, ending his high school career.
Grand Junction’s No. 4 duo of senior Grayson O’Roark and freshman Dan Lionberger qualified with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Fruita’s Jace Griffiths and Tanner McKenzie.
Central’s Kurt Faller qualified for the first time with his No. 1 doubles partner, Matt Champlin, by placing second and avoided having a playback when Chaparral, a team the Warriors had already defeated, placed third.
“It was tough,” Faller said. “We had two hard matches (Thursday). We were waiting for (Chaparral) to win (the third-place match). It was exciting when they did.”
Pestello, who plays No. 3 singles, reached state, as did the Wildcats’ Nos. 2, 3 and 4 doubles teams.
The Wildcats placed second at each of those positions and then won playback matches to qualify,
“I’m stoked,” Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. “After losing the championship matches, it’s tough to turn around and play again. They all beat good teams and found their games in time.”
Pestello, the No. 2 team of Vinny Castellini and Andy Hoeckel, Hautzinger and the No. 4 duo of Griffiths and McKenzie qualified for state for the first time. Hotminsky qualified for the second time.
Grand Junction’s No. 1 doubles team of Charlie Reicks and Sam Morgan and No. 2 duo of Gabe Campos and Luke Ledebur also won to complete the Tigers’ sweep.