Central’s Brown rallies to beat Gartner; six Tigers reach regional finals
By PATRICK BAHR
When the draw came out for the Class 5A Region 7 tennis tournament at the Elliott Tennis Center, Isaac Brown knew he was in for a battle.
Central High School’s No. 1 singles player saw he would be playing Grand Junction’s Owen Gartner in the first round.
“I looked and saw I was playing Junction and I wasn’t excited,” Brown said. “I would have rather had an easy match to get warmed up.”
The two players had already gone three sets in each of their two dual matches this season.
Friday wasn’t any different.
Brown edged Gartner 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the first match of the day.
“I was expecting the match to be like that,” Brown said. “Both times we had played, I had lost the first set, so when I lost the first set this time I knew I would have to come back like before.”
Brown was able to use a tough lob in the second and third sets while braving a cruel early morning wind. Central coach Steve Tyler said he was not surprised by the challenging match the two played.
“Both those kids are battlers and it was just a point here or there that separated them,” Tyler said.
“They played three matches that went a combined nine sets. Both kids are hard workers and it was fun to see it was that close.”
The loss marks another disappointing regional for Gartner, who fell short of the state tournament last year as well. Reflecting on the match, Gartner was able to figure out what caused the match to turn.
“It is really all about momentum in these matches,” Gartner said. “I had it early on and won six points in a row and he fought it out in the second and just had it in the third.”
Brown’s momentum didn’t last long, as he was defeated by Ponderosa’s Zach Vinton 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals. Brown is still alive in the playbacks and plays Durango’s Dylan Shapiro today at 8 a.m.
Vinton didn’t lose a game Friday, getting by Fruita Monument’s Tristan Beck 6-0, 6-0 in the first round.
He plays the No. 1 seed, Overland’s Roman Khemlev, in this morning’s title match.
Khemlev, who received a first-round bye, cruised past Shapiro 6-0, 6-2 in the semifinals.
“(Khemlev) is solid and I think it will be a tough match, but Zach is ready,” Ponderosa coach Cary
LaCouture said. “Zach is a pretty focused player that is just a really competitive guy that loves playing people.”
Ponderosa’s other two singles players played well, as Hunter LaCouture at No. 2 and Lucas Quintero at No. 3 each made it to today’s finals. They play Grand Junction’s Dylan Proietti (No. 2) and Parker Hegstrom (No. 3).
“It has been great so far and we have had a lot of tough matches,” Cary LaCouture said. “We have seen some great competition and I am really proud of these guys.”
The Mustangs and Grand Junction are tied atop the team standings, both with 51 points. Central is third with 36.
The Tigers took advantage of their six byes, landing all those spots in today’s final.
Although the Tigers had a strong showing, coach Carol Elliott didn’t think they were as crisp as she would have hoped.
“Some of our kids are playing really well and came prepared, but we have some kids that haven’t been ready,” Elliott said. “Coming off of (Friday) I hope the kids go home and get themselves ready for the matches (today).”
Central had a strong first-round showing, getting six out of seven positions into the semifinals, but the second round wasn’t as favorable for the Warriors. Only the No. 1 doubles team of Austin Krebill and James D’Anabelle and the No. 2 team of Matt Champlin and Dave McFall advanced into the finals.
Both teams play Grand Junction today.
“I felt great after the first round,” Tyler said. “But I am proud of the kids and played well in every place.
We are looking for some more matches in playbacks to push a few more kids to state.”
Fruita Monument was led by its No. 4 team of Chad Hotimsky and Josh Weedon, who face Grand Junction’s Gabriel Campos and Luke Ledebur in the final.
All championship matches will begin at 8:30 this morning at the Elliott Tennis Center, with playbacks starting at 8 a.m. at the Clinton Smith Courts at Lincoln Park.