‘Cats confident heading to state tennis tourney
The Grand Junction High School tennis team dominated the regional tournament last weekend.
The Tigers took first in every division, with each win coming in straight sets. With that performance, Grand Junction has its entire team competing in this weekend’s Class 5A state tournament at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver.
While the Tigers coasted into the state tournament, the Fruita Monument tennis team didn’t have it quite as easy. The Wildcats had to fight their way through playback matches on the final day of the regional tournament.
When the dust settled, Fruita earned four spots in the state tournament.
“That can be a killer, you were just demolished by your rival and you are fighting for your life a half an hour later,” Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. “Everyone was clutch in the playbacks.”
When play begins today at the Gates Tennis Center, Fruita Monument will have Antonio Pestello at No. 3 singles, the No. 2 doubles team of Vinny Castellini and Andy Hoeckel, the No. 3 doubles team Ryan Hautzinger and Chad Hotimsky, and the No. 4 doubles team of Jace Griffiths and Tanner McKenzie all on the courts.
“Everyone played really tough when they needed to and I think that will bode well for us at state,” Davis said. ‘They should have earned some confidence from that.”
The first two rounds are today, with semifinals and playback matches Friday and the finals Saturday.
With seven Wildcats in Denver, Davis said he’s excited to have more players representing the school and program than they have had in recent years.
“It’s not only the players going over but each have a parent or two going, so it will be a healthy contingency from Fruita,” Davis said. “I think that will help morale.”
The Wildcats can use that morale and support, because they don’t have much state experience. Hotimsky is the lone Wildcat on the state roster who has played in the state tournament. Hotimsky made it last year at No. 4 doubles.
Hotimsky said he learned how crucial it is control emotions at the state tournament.
“It’s important to keep your head in it, and focus in on what you are doing,” Hotimsky said. “Last year we might have lost because we got angry when we were making mistakes.”
The Wildcats are hoping to make a little bit of a mark on the state scene. Castellini and Hoeckel begin their state tournament against Keith Dehererra and Ross Donovan of Chatfield.
“We want to show that we are just as good as the other teams at state,” Castellini said. “We are not the lowly team that everyone thinks of us, so we want to win a few matches.”
Central has one representative at the state tournament. Kurt Faller and Matt Champlin begin play against Mark Miller and Alex Gnaegy of Regis at No. 1 doubles.
“We are very excited, but we all know it’s going to be incredible competition,” Central coach Kathy Elliott said. “If they can relax and have fun, they can do well.”