Central’s Morrison finally makes it to state tennis tourney
It was a battle of the senior trying to punch his first ticket to state and a talented sophomore who was not ready to be done playing tennis this season.
At Saturday’s final day of the Class 5A Region 7 tournament at the Elliott Tennis Center at Mesa State College, Central’s Tom Morrison was taking on Grand Junction’s Parker Hegstrom in a playback match for the final slot at No. 3 singles.
Both players had played one match earlier in the day, with Hegstrom losing the championship match to Ponderosa’s Lucas Quintero 6-2, 6-0 and Morrison defeating Fruita’s JP Lambert 6-0, 6-0 to set up the playback match.
Morrison had to win two matches after losing to Quintero on Friday and said he awoke Saturday morning knowing he had one final opportunity to go to state.
“It was way stressful,” Morrison said. “I was so nervous because this was my last chance to go to state.”
Morrison took Hegstrom’s best shot and came out victorious, winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 earning his first opportunity to play in this weekend’s state tournament.
“It feels amazing,” Morrison said. “You have no idea how much I have been looking forward to this.”
From a spectator’s standpoint, the momentum of the clinching match swayed more than the trees caught in Saturday’s high wind gusts. Both players made runs in the match — Morrison went up 4-1 in the third set before Hegstrom stormed back, trailing only 5-4. Morrison has self-destructed when things aren’t going his way, but with a chance to go to state on the line, the senior dug in.
“I usually would get down on myself and just give up,” Morrison said. “But I knew this was my last chance, so I didn’t give up and just kept in it.”
After a competitive final game, Hegstrom sent a ball into the net, giving Morrison the victory.
“Tom played mentally tough, he had a lot of people watching and Parker is playing great,” Central coach Steve Tyler said. “He won that game even when the momentum was going the other way.”
For Hegstrom, he entered the day needing only one win to advance to state.
“It is really tough for Parker to lose two matches in one day, but he really battled out there after getting down in the third set,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “I feel bad for him, but he is a young sophomore and has learned a lot from his first year of playing singles and will come out strong next year.”
While Hegstrom came up short, No. 3 singles is one of only two spots that the Tigers won’t be sending to state. Grand Junction’s No. 2 singles player Dylan Proietti, along with all four doubles teams, won their championship matches to advance.
“Overall I am happy,” Elliott said. “I am proud of the way those guys came out and performed.”
Proietti defeated Ponderosa’s Hunter LaCouture 7-5, 6-4. At No. 1 doubles, Charlie Reicks and Sam
Morgan defeated Central’s Austin Krebill and James D’Anabelle 6-2, 6-3. Krebill and D’Anabelle qualified for state, earning Central’s only other bid.
The No. 2 doubles team of Jake Frankhouser and Greg Coleman probably had one of the easiest routes to state as they rolled 6-3, 6-0 over Central’s Matt Champlin and David McFall after playing only one match Friday.
The Tigers’ No. 3 team, Darius Fugere and Matt Friesen, moved on by defeating Ponderosa’s David Packard and Eugene Kim 6-3, 6-1. Finally, at No. 4, Luke Ledebur and Gabriel Campos moved on by defeating Fruita Monument’s Chad Hotimsky and Josh Weedon 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. Hotimsky and Weedon still qualified for state, earning Fruita Monument’s only berth.
With the championship wins, Grand Junction earned the regional title with a team score of 66, just beating out Ponderosa’a 60.
“We knew coming into today that we were tied with Ponderosa,” Elliott said. “So the kids had to win some finals matches and they did that.”