Been here before: GJ’s Proietti knows what to expect from state tournament
This is not Grand Junction High School tennis player Alex Proietti’s first rodeo.
Proietti, a junior, has been to the state tournament the past two years as a doubles player, including winning last year’s state title at No. 3 doubles.
Although Proietti has moved up to No. 2 singles and faces Taylor Dolak of Poudre when play begins at 9 this morning in the first day of the Class 5A state tennis tournament, she doesn’t see her approach changing at all.
“I know how it’s laid out, and I know it’s going to be tough all the way through,” Proietti said. “Getting ready, I know what to expect. It’ll be different at singles, but at least I know what to expect.”
During her two trips to the Gates Tennis Center in Denver, Proietti has learned she has to be ready to go right away. There aren’t any easy matches at the state tournament, and Proietti said an important part of success on the first day of the tournament has a lot to do with the previous night’s preparation.
“You have to be ready the night before and make sure you get a good night’s sleep,” Proietti said. “In the morning you can’t be rushed, you have to be ready to get there and play your best at 9 a.m.”
Proietti knows how critical that first match is at state. Lose early, and you sweat out the possibility of getting a playback match. If the person or doubles team you lose to reaches the finals, you’re in the consolation bracket.
“That first step is key and the first step is winning the first round, especially if you aren’t matched up against someone strong like a Cherry Creek,” Grand Junction High School coach Carol Elliott said. “You have to come in prepared or you might end up being one and done.”
Proietti won the championship as a sophomore at No. 3 doubles, but lost her first No. 4 doubles match as a freshman and didn’t have a chance for a playback.
“You have to play your best and come out on the winning side because if you lose to a team that isn’t very strong and isn’t going to advance, then you have a problem,” Proietti said. “There are a lot of people that don’t make the cut after that first round.”
This is Proietti’s first trip to state as a singles player, and she feels she has the game to be competitive. Her mental approach to the game is her strength.
“I put in a lot of preparation on my mental game,” Proietti said. “I work to make sure that when I get out there nothing is going to surprise me.”
Proietti won’t be alone at the tournament — the Tigers qualified at six spots, including No. 3 singles player Samantha Weinberg, who plays Michael Ann Finnin of Heritage.
Highlighting the doubles matchups for the Tigers are the No. 1 doubles team of Emmie Madison and Madison Gurley taking on Alli McGuire and Morgan McKelvy of Chaparral. At No. 3 doubles, Nicky Arja and Emma Holt face Kaitlin Bos and Madeleine Mathis of Heritage in the first round.
Arja and Holt defeated Fruita’s McKenzie Kimball and Emily McGovern to win the Region 1 title, but Kimball and McGovern also qualified for state.
The Wildcats’ No. 3 team faces Megan Thayer and Sara Martin of Fairview in the first round.
“They can go deep,” Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. “But it all depends on if they are hot. When they are hot, they can beat just about anybody.”
Fruita’s other spot in the state tournament is at No. 1 singles, where Janine Kirtland faces Palmer’s Adriana Wojakowska.
“We knew Janine was going to have a tough draw no matter where she was,” Davis said. “But I don’t expect her to feel any nerves at all, she’s seen and played the top-level competition.”