CMU player Lindqvist tops recruit Howe at Western Slope Open
The present and possibly the future of Colorado Mesa tennis clashed in finals of the men’s open division at the Western Slope Open on Sunday.
The marquee singles matchup featured a pair of young players with a full repertoire of tennis power and skill that was on full display in the title match at Elliott Tennis Center.
Max Lindqvist was solid throughout and subdued Steven Howe of Temecula, California, 6-3, 6-4.
“I played really well, I think, just a really solid match,” Lindqvist said. “This was my first local tournament, I’d do it again, it was a lot of fun.”
Lindqvist, who is from Stockholm, Sweden, will be a junior for the CMU tennis team next month.
The 21-year-old, who is expected to take over the No. 1 singles spot for the Mavericks, methodically overpowered his 17-year-old opponent, moving him around the court and hitting both forehand and backhand winners.
“I think I was a little more aggressive than I usually am, and maybe I’m transitioning into that kind of game because I’m gong to have to play like that (at No. 1 singles),” Lindqvist said.
Howe, who will be a high school senior this fall, came to Grand Junction on a recruiting visit. He made the finals with consistent play, but was in trouble for much of the match against Lindqvist.
“My returns were a little bit of my weak point, but my serve really kept me in it, and keeping balls deep and not allowing him to attack,” Howe said.
Trailing 4-3 in the second set, Howe used his serve to tie the set with a quick game victory.
But three returns that weren’t quite flush derailed his chance at the break in the next game.
After going up 5-4, Lindqvist won the match breaking Howe on serve.
Lindqvist was recruited to come to CMU after he posted a YouTube video online. CMU coach Dan MacDonald saw the video and made an offer. Lindqvist’s twin brother Oliver Lindqvist is also on the CMU team.
Playing against a possible future teammate was interesting, Lindqvist said.
“It was fun to play him because I will tell Dan how he was,” Lindqvist said. “He’s a very consistent guy. I think he could be even better because I don’t think he’s used to the altitude yet. Overall, really good and that’s what we need on the team, good consistent guys.”
Howe said it was a good visit.
“It was definitely a good experience, it opened your eyes and you saw what you’d be playing against in other (Division II) teams,” Howe said. “(CMU) is a good DII team.”
Junior competition heats up
The juniors tournament is broken up into levels depending on skill and experience with divisions named after one of the four professional tennis majors.
With no women’s open singles division, the top level was the 16-18 year-old girls Australian division.
Grand Junction High School’s Julianna Campos claimed the title with a hard-fought straight set victory over Emma Aubert.
The 6-4, 7-5 match lasted right at two hours.
Campos, who will be a sophomore at Grand Junction, pulled away in the first set, then looked to be locked in for an easy win the second set after going up 4-1.
But Aubert re-focused and battled back to tie the match at 4-4 and 5-5.
“I didn’t really have any (nerves) I was just excited,” Aubert said. “I just wanted to make sure that she worked for every point.”
Campos said she was frustrated with how the match got tight.
“It was very frustrating and that’s not the first time it’s happened,” she said about letting a lead slip away. “That’s like the worst thing that can happen.
“I try and stay mentally tough and that’s the big thing, especially when your shots aren’t going where you want and you’re not playing your best,” she said. “I think I was consistent when I wasn’t being as aggressive. I was mentally tough and changed my game a little.”
Even though Aubert is just going into the seventh grade, she played in the 16-18 age group and showed that she belonged.
“I know I got better and made an impact,” she said with a smile.
In the 16-18 boys Australian division, Cal Hegstrom took the title for the second straight year.
And he did it in dominating fashion, but his straight-set victory over Jackson Cesark didn’t start out that way.
“That first set, I was really struggling down 5-0, and then I clicked and started playing better,” Hegstrom said. “Once I get going I really get hot.”
After falling behind 5-0 to Cesark in that first set, Hegstrom then won the next 13 games to win the match 7-5, 6-0.
Hegstrom, who will be a junior at Grand Junction, played at No. 2 singles last year.
“This tournament is a really good tournament for me and it’s a great way to get ready for the season coming up,” he said.
Cesark, who played both singles and doubles with the Tigers last fall, had a good tournament. He made the finals with a 3-6, 6-4, 10-5 win over Cameron Weckerly, who was Grand Junction’s No. 1 singles player in the fall.