Fleming tasting success at McDonald’s tourney
Sarah Fleming is thriving in her first tournament.
The 11-year-old is in the finals of the junior mixed singles division of the McDonald’s Junior Tennis Tournament.
Saturday at Mesa State College, Fleming defeated Tayvia Voytilla 6-3, 6-0 in the semifinals.
“I was nervous at first because this is my first tournament and I didn’t know how well I was going to do,” Fleming said. “I was afraid I was going to mess up.”
Fleming is in the six-person junior mixed bracket, which contains four girls and two boys each 12 years old or younger. All of the competitors are in the Mesa County Junior Tennis Association intermediate leagues, but for some like Fleming, this is their first chance in the McDonald’s tournament.
“For a lot of the kids this is the first step in tournament tennis,” McDonald’s tournament director Ron Elliott said. “It’s a big adjustment because they have to pace themselves, keep track of the score, and know that even if they lose the first set, they have another chance.”
In Elliott’s league, the young athletes only play one set.
“Win or lose, they are learning more about how to play the game and getting experience,” Elliott said.
“I’ve been proud of them. We’ve had to play some singles matches in 95-degree heat and they were in there for the whole matched and never complained, so I’ve been impressed of their survival skills.”
Fleming defeated Charis Nordstrom in the first round on Friday, and plays 9-year-old Julianna Campos in the final of the junior mixed singles at 9:30 a.m. today. Fleming said she’s excited to be in the finals.
“I was pretty nervous but then I got into the groove of things,” Fleming said. “I felt a lot better (Saturday) and I was determined to win because I heard there was a big trophy.”
Fleming said she’s been serious about tennis for the past year, but has been hitting for a long time. She wants to follow in the footsteps of her father, who was a college tennis player.
Fleming’s father is Mesa State College head volleyball coach Dave Fleming, who played tennis at Denison University in Ohio.
“(Tennis) is my dad’s favorite sport so we play all the time,” Sarah Fleming said.
Other results from Saturday included Greg Gibson moving into the finals of the boys 14-and-under singles with a 4-6, 6-0, 6-4 win over Brody Cupp. Gibson plays Ridge Droskin in the finals.
Last year’s 18-and-under singles winner Luke Ledebur advanced into the finals with a 6-0, 6-0 win against Tate Hegstrom. Ledebur plays Jesi Nordstrom in the finals. Nordstrom outlasted Parker Hegstrom 6-7, 7-5, 7-6.
One final was played Saturday, with Caleb Gartner defeating Drake Giese in the boys 16 singles final 6-3, 3-6, 6-0.
Bronte Hayward plays Anne Hughes in the finals of the girls 16-and-under bracket.
Hughes also is in the girls 18-and-under singles final after a 6-3, 6-3 win over Courtlyn Carpenter. Hughes plays Meredith Soychak in the 18 finals at 9:30 a.m.