Singles matches sizzle in Western Slope Open

Laurni Blanchard of Grand Junction dives for a return to her opponent, Kathy Bachlet of Fruita, during Friday’s match at the Western Slope Open tennis tournament at the Elliott Tennis Center.

Kathy Bachlet of Fruita races to the net to return the ball to her opponent, Laurni Blanchard of Grand Junction, during their matchFriday at the Western Slope Open tennis tournament at the Elliott Tennis Center.

With the sun beating down Friday afternoon, Kathy Bachlet and Laurni Blanchard battled through a long, back-and-forth tennis match.

Bachlet, aided by a strong serve, kept Blanchard moving. Blanchard’s returns were strong, but Bachlet ripped shots up the sidelines numerous times to win points. Ultimately, it led her to a 6-3, 6-2 victory in a women’s 3.5 singles match during the first day of the Western Slope Open.

Dozens of competitors from a wide range of age groups slogged through scorching temperatures to play quality tennis on the first day of the weeklong event at the Elliott Tennis Center.

For Bachlet, the tournament is a testament to the Grand Junction tennis community and the Elliott family.

“It’s awesome,” Bachlet said. “The Elliotts put on such a great tennis program and such a great tournament, so this is just a lot of fun for me. All of us are friends out here, so it’s like playing with a friend each time.”

During the first set, Bachlet seized an early lead and held on as Blanchard made a late push.

In the second set, Bachlet led 4-1, but Blanchard landed a flurry of baseline shots to close to 4-3. The next three games were won with Bachlet pushing play to one side or the other, sometimes forcing Blanchard to the opposite end of the court, other times making her cut back to the side from which she just shot.

The mix of the heat and Bachlet’s ability to create movement proved to be too much and Bachlet closed out the final two games.

“That’s singles,” she said. “You have to keep the other person moving, otherwise, if you don’t move them, they’re going to move you.

“I thought my serve was pretty good today, too. I don’t even know if I double-faulted — I think I had only had one double-fault and that’s always indicative of a good day.”

Blanchard played a very methodical match, probing for holes in Bachlet’s defense. Many of her high-arcing shots landed right on the back line, making for tough returns for Bachlet. A couple glanced off the end of Bachlet’s racket and a few more led to soft returns. Still, Bachlet was able to regain control of the match and typically controlled the tempo.

The pace between points slowed as temperatures increased, too, but both competitors were fine with that.

“It was really hot,” Bachlet said with a laugh. “Luckily, Laurni was into taking breaks in between points, and I had a spray bottle. That helps a lot.”

Said Blanchard: “It was really intense. I was feeling it today.”

Play continues all day today with semifinals and consolation matches scheduled throughout the day. Several area high school players are competing in at least one division, including Fruita Monument senior-to-be Sarah Fleming, and features a wide range of talent across all age groups.

The annual tournament tweaked its format this year. The first three days are dedicated to all the singles matches, then the tournament moves into doubles competition.

More information, including a full schedule of matches, is available at TennisGJ.wordpress.com.


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