Cousins meet in semis

Campos helps Tigers advance entire team to finals

Tom Johnson couldn’t wait to see the brackets for the Class 5A Region 8 tennis tournament.

The Mountain Vista High School senior wasn’t looking to analyze his chances of a return trip to the state championships as much as he was looking to see if he would play his second cousin, Gabe Campos of Grand Junction High School. Johnson’s dad and Campos’ mom are first cousins.

“We got our draws (Wednesday) and I saw we were the four seed and Junction was the one seed,” Johnson said. “If we both won our first round, we would meet in the second round. That’s what happened.”

Campos, a sophomore, knew Johnson was playing for Mountain Vista, but didn’t realize he was playing No. 2 doubles until Thursday.

“I had no clue he was playing two doubles until today,” Campos said. “I was excited. I thought it was crazy. That’s never happened to me before.”

Both admitted to being a little more excited for Thursday’s semifinal match than normal, maybe even too much.

“It was fun,” Campos said. “I was more fired up, but I felt bad when I hit him. I nailed him (in the first set) on an overhead. ‘Sorry about that.’ “

“It was cool playing Gabriel,” Johnson said. “I don’t think I’ve seen him play but two points before (Thursday). It was different.”

Campos and his partner, Luke Ledebur, used their strong groundstrokes to defeat Johnson and Matt Mancuso 6-2, 6-1 and advance to the regional final at 10 a.m. today at Canyon View Park.

“They both tend to go back into that mode at times,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “They have some good groundstrokes. We try to move them forward, but sometimes they get tentative and use those groundstrokes, but it ends up paying off for them.

“They’ve adjusted. This is their second year playing together, so they know each other’s games well enough if one is staying back the other better start moving forward. They complement each other’s games.”

Grand Junction advanced its entire team to the finals. The Tigers lead the tournament with 56 points.

“We had some tough matches today, some of the first rounds and second rounds could’ve gone either way,” Elliott said. “The kids pulled it out and played really strong.

“They were focused and handled adversity really well. At times, especially our younger kids, looked like they might falter and fall apart, but they regrouped and got themselves going again. Our goal was to get everybody in the finals and we were able to do that.”

Central and Fruita Monument are tied for second with 28 points. The Warriors’ three singles players are playing for third place and their No. 1 doubles team is in the final. The Wildcats’ No. 3 singles player, No. 2, 3 and 4 doubles teams are playing for first.

Each individual region champion qualifies for the Class 5A state tournament, plus the runner-up, or a playback winner.

Campos and Johnson are hoping they both qualify for state next week. For that to happen, the Tigers will need to win the regional title and the Golden Eagles’ duo would need to defeat Chaparral for third place then Fruita Monument’s Vinny Castellini and Andy Hoeckel in a playback for the second qualifier.

“It’s better to lose to family, but losing is never easy,” Johnson said.


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