Confidence builder

Fruita No. 1 doubles team boosts morale with 2nd-place finish at Western Slope Open

Fruita Monument’s Mia Maynard, right, and Amber Skillicorn, left, celebrate after winning a point Saturday in their 6-3, 6-3 loss in the No. 1 doubles championship at the Western Slope Open at the Elliott Tennis Center. Maynard and Skillicorn are playing together for the first time this season.

Amber Skillicorn let out a frustrated groan as her shot went astray.

Mia Maynard immediately came over, and the Fruita Monument No. 1 doubles team had a quick conference. The duo regrouped Saturday and won the next point.

Early season doubles can be an awkward experience, and it was at times for Skillicorn and Maynard, but the duo played well at the Western Slope Open at the Elliott Tennis Center.

The Wildcats made the finals and hung with a tough Mountain Vista team of Ashlen Grote and Amanda Pruitt, before falling 6-3, 6-3.

The second-place finish was a satisfying start to the season for Skillicorn and Maynard, who are first-time doubles partners with the Wildcats.

“I’m almost surprised, but not really,” said Maynard, a senior, about making the finals.

Skillicorn agreed.

“The fact that we even made it to the finals is a huge confidence booster for us,” she said.

The pair played together over the summer and hoped to be partners for the high school season. They found out Thursday they would be together at No. 1 doubles.

“We wanted to play really good so we could show our coach we should play together for the rest of the season. And I think we did really good,” Maynard said.

Both girls qualified for state last year, Maynard at No. 2 doubles, and Skillicorn at No. 4 doubles.

“I was pretty nervous because four doubles to one doubles is quite the jump and also I just started tennis last year,” Skillicorn said. “I’ve been working really hard, so I was confident, but it’s always nerve-wracking to jump up so many spots.”

Staying confident is a vital part of tennis for the Fruita junior.

“I just tell myself that I’m the best person on the court. I literally tell myself, ‘You’re Serena Williams.’ ” she said. “Once I do that, I’m very confident and do much better.”

The doubles team was one of three Fruita Monument flights to make the semifinals.

Sarah Fleming and Alexa Jo Willms both took third place at No. 1 and No. 3 singles, respectively.

For Skillicorn and Maynard, taking second in their first tournament has them excited to see what’s next.

“What makes us good partners is that we’re not only partners but we’re best friends in real life,” Skillicorn said. “I think what makes us good together, is you’re not going to find another doubles team that wants to win more than we do.”

Willms didn’t secure her third-place win until after a long, epic match with Grand Junction’s Bree Call.

Willms won the first set 6-4 before Call rallied to take the second 6-1. In the 10-point third set, both players battled with the score going back and forth before Willms pulled out a 12-10 win.

The No. 1 singles bracket was as deep they come.

Fleming lost in the semifinals to Casey Zhong of Mountain Vista, 6-1, 6-3, but bounced back with a good match for third.

The third-place match also featured a tough opponent for Fleming in Pueblo West’s Sara Schoenbeck, who placed second at the Class 4A state tournament last year. The Fruita junior played a solid match to pick up a 7-6, 6-2.

The No. 1 singles finals was the marquee matchup of the tournament, featuring Zhong, who placed fourth at 5A state last year, and Poudre’s Ky Ecton, who was the runner-up at 5A state.

The two players’ skill and power was on full display throughout with Zhong pulling out a 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 victory.

Mountain Vista dominated play, winning all three singles finals and two doubles finals, to easily claim the team tile with 203 points. Poudre was second at 154, followed by Heritage (149), Chatfield (148), and Fruita Monument and Denver East in a tie for fifth at 143.


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