Competition tough at Western Slope Invite

Talyor Sargant played No. 1 singles for Cherry Creek High School against Matt Pyle form Greeley West High School at Canyon View Park.

Every team gets a little something different from the Western Slope Invitational tennis tournament.

For some it’s all about the competition. This year’s field has 20 teams from all over the state, including top programs like Cherry Creek, Fairview and Denver East.

“The level of competition is tougher than regionals, but not quite as tough as the state tournament,” Durango coach David Weisfeldt said. “It’s a good measuring stick of where you are at in the season, and for us, it’s a can’t-miss.”

Willie Payne, the No. 2 singles player at Heritage High School, spent his day at
Canyon View Park. Payne, a junior, said the biggest thing he takes away from the tournament is a familiarity with players from across the state.

“A lot of these teams we will play at state,” Payne said. “Two years ago I played the same person at regionals that I played here. I lost to him both times, but the second time, I lost in a third-set tiebreaker.”

A lot of players are getting their first varsity tournament experience, including Grand Junction’s No. 4 doubles player Tate Hegstrom, a freshman.

“I’ve played in Taco Bell, but nothing like this,” Hegstrom said. “This the first year, so I’m looking to have fun and play my best.”

Every team is looking to gain experience, but for Fruita Monument, gaining confidence was more important. The Wildcats entered the tournament after losing a pair of dual matches to Grand Junction and Steamboat Springs.

“We are coming in pretty humble,” Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. “In addition to learning and getting better, we kind of need to get our confidence back, so hopefully we can do that, and get some wins somewhere.”

Confidence might be an issue for some teams, but for other programs like Cherry Creek, the key isn’t getting wins. For the Bruins, this weekend’s tournament has a lot to do with building team unity.

“What we always get out of it is bringing the team back together,” Cherry Creek coach Kirk Price said. “Our team is such a competitive place to be that they are fighting with each other to make the team. By the time we go home from here, they’ve usually gotten the camaraderie back.”

Friday, Cherry Creek was in an unusual position. The Bruins’ No. 2 singles player,
Joel Lowinger, injured his foot before the tournament and the Bruins didn’t have time to get a replacement ready. Because of that, Cherry Creek had to default at No. 2 singles, and that left the Bruins in fifth place with 86 points.

Chatfield and Denver East are tied for first place with 96 points, Fairview is third with 95 points and Grand Junction is fourth with 90 points.

The Tigers have four spots still fighting for first place, including the No. 2 doubles team of Gabriel Campos and Greg Coleman. The duo defeated Cody Goddwine and Grand Guttis of Greeley West 6-4, 6-4. Campos and Coleman face Fairview’s Evan Rush and Will Kuelthan in the semifinals.

Fruita is 12th with 46 points and Central 16th with 18 points.

All of the semifinal and championship matches will be at Canyon View Park, with the semis starting at 8 this morning.


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