Central senior finding foes tough in tennis at No. 2
Central High School tennis player Mandy Johnson’s season has been full of highs and lows.
Tuesday against Grand Junction could qualify as a low as the Warriors’ No. 2 singles player lost 6-0, 6-0 to the Tigers’ Jenny Jessup. The loss was part of a tough day for the Warriors, who fell 7-0 to Grand Junction.
“My play has fluctuated more this year,” Johnson said. “That isn’t very common for me, because last year I thought I played consistent throughout matches.”
Johnson is in her third year of playing No. 2 singles for the Warriors, and is back at the position after qualifying for state at No. 3 singles last year as a junior. With the loss to Jessup, it evens Johnson’s record at 3-3 this season.
Central coach Amy Hart said there is a big difference between No. 2 and No. 3 singles.
“There is a dividing line where at No. 2 singles, the game jumps up to the next level,” Hart said. “But (Mandy) has done a good job this year at trying to always fight back.”
What has made Johnson’s losses harder this season is they have all come against valley competition. Johnson has lost to Fruita Monument’s No. 2 singles player Andi Kirtland twice.
“Losing to Fruita was the hardest,” Johnson said. “To me, it was like if you want to go to state again, you can’t lose to Fruita, and that was weighing on me the second time I played her.”
But for Johnson, the season is not over as she has three more matches before the regional tournament.
“In tennis, it’s all about regionals,” Johnson said. “So if you can pull it out in regionals, you can go to state.”
Johnson’s opponent, Jessup, put forward a strong performance Tuesday, despite missing Grand Junction’s two dual matches and the Phil Kraus tournament last weekend because of a family commitment.
The senior said she was happy to be back on the court.
“Now I am trying to get as much match play in as I can,” Jessup said. “It felt really good to come out and play today since I haven’t played in a while.”
With the win, Jessup remained perfect on the season. She wasn’t the only Tiger playing well as Grand Junction won every match in straight sets.
No. 1 singles player Charlotte Mooney defeated Elise Beckstead 6-1, 6-2, and No. 3 singles player Kirsten Schulte defeated Jasmine Poeppel 6-0, 6-3.
“Our first four came out really strong,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “Now we have two weeks to prepare ourselves for regionals, and we start with Fruita on Tuesday, which is going to be a huge match.”