Competition drives tennis teams at Western Slope Invite

For the 16 teams competing in this weekend’s Western Slope Invitational girls tennis tournament, experience is more important than a player’s won/loss record.

With most teams entering today’s play with only a few matches under their belts, the tournament provides players a chance to play a lot of matches in two days.

“This will give them an idea if they are ready physically,” Ralston Valley coach Kim Greason said. “They will find out if they are ready to play that much in one day.”

The two-day tournament is at the Elliott Tennis Center at Mesa State College, Grand Junction High School, Lincoln Park and Canyon View Park. The matches begin at 8 this morning, with Saturday’s championship matches at 10:30 a.m., all at Mesa State.

The real attraction of the tournament is playing all those matches against quality opponents.
Of the 16 teams at the tournament, 10 scored points in last year’s state tournaments, whether it was in Class 4A or Class 5A.

“It allows you to compete with some of the better players in the state,” Greeley Central coach Ed Rodgers said. “It is always a great tournament.”

Fourth-year Pueblo West coach Sam Pisciotta entered his team for the first time after struggling at the state tournament last year. Pisciotta was looking for a way to get his team
more variety in its competition.

“We have six schools in the Pueblo area and we play each other all the time,” Pisciotta said.

“In state, it seems like we can’t handle it mentally, so this is exactly what we are looking for. I want to give them some exposure to the quality of players they will face at the state tournament.”

As good as the tournament is for the teams making the trip over the mountains, for those who will be playing in their own back yard, the Western Slope Invitational provides the perfect way to evaluate.

“It is always a great opportunity to find out our weaknesses as they get magnified over the course of the tournament,” Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. “I don’t care much about wins or losses at this point. We are taking (what happens in the matches to) learn from it.”

Greeley West coach Jane Burke said her team knows what direction it needs to go after the early-season event.

“After we leave we know what we have to do what to get ready for state,” Burke said.

“Everyone knows how important it is to get to the Invite. It is a huge tournament for us.”


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