In the spotlight

Filutze, Soychak come up short in 
WSO semifinals

Sierra Filutze, the No. 3 singles player from Grand Junction High School, returns a shot from Diana Babcock from Palmer Ridge in Saturday’s semifinals of the Western Slope Open at the Elliott Tennis Center.

Saturday morning, Grand Junction No. 3 singles player Sierra Filutze was playing puppeteer.

Backhand, forehand, slam.

Not particularly creative, but brutally effective. Her ability to control her opponent allowed Filutze to win the first set of her semifinal matchup 6-2 by demanding her opponent, Palmer Ridge’s Diana Babcock, move from one end of the court to the other.

Day 2 of the Western Slope Open at the Elliott Tennis Center and Canyon View Park put Filutze, along with Fruita Monument’s Jacque Soychak, in the spotlight as the only local singles players still battling for a championship.

The spotlight, however, eluded Filutze, as the senior dropped the second set 7-5 and the tiebreaker-format third set 10-8.

“I got really nervous, excited and anxious to play,” Filutze said. “I had some delays yesterday, so I just really wanted to play. It’s been fun because all of my matches have been really close. I’ve experienced so many different styles of play.

“You have people who hit short, hit with a lot of topspin. You get pace and no pace. It helps.”

Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said Filutze is flush with potential but needs to find consistency. She said tournaments like the Western Slope Open provide opportunities to find consistency based of the sheer amount of tennis played. Some doubles teams played four matches, and many singles players competed three times Friday. Filutze finished the tournament in fourth place.

“Sierra, she’s getting over a hump where she gets up on people and lets it slip away,” Elliott said. “She’s going to grow a lot this year, and she’s been playing very well.”

Soychak dropped her semifinal match against Ralston Valley’s Bella Melena and finished fourth, but she also saw a wealth of competition in No. 2 singles. In the semifinals, two of the girls are top-placing club players, and one player, Fairview’s Jessee Clauson, has committed to play for an NCAA Division II college. All three have generated recruiting interest. 
Soychak said seeing a wide range of competition was her favorite part of the Western Slope Open.

“This is really good practice for the beginning of the season,” Soychak said. “It’s good to go out there and see what you’re up against with Denver schools and girls who can play Division I. I’m happy I made it this far, and I’m hoping I can do better next time.”

Fruita coach Clint Davis said this tournament is a good measuring stick for how good No. 2 singles is in the Southwestern League.

“It’s a battle to see who can dictate every point,” Davis said. “These girls, the ones with a ton of experience, can place every point. In our league (No.) 2 singles is really strong, and every match is going to be a battle for her. It’s great experience.”

Central No. 1 singles player Aimee Basinski finished fifth and was the Warriors’ top finisher.

Grand Junction freshman Carolena Campos won her fifth-place match 10-6 at No. 2 singles.

Grand Junction’s No. 4 doubles team of Tawni Tubbs and Mariah Prinster finished fourth.

Grand Junction finished the highest among local teams, placing 10th in the 16-team field. Fruita Monument finished 11th, Central 13th and Montrose 16th.


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