Focusing on opponent will be key for GJ, Fruita at regionals

Central High School’s Mandy Johnson returns the ball at the net during practice at the school.

At a Fruita Monument tennis practice earlier this week, Wildcats coach Clint Davis gave his team one important piece of advice.

After the girls had finished running their laps at Canyon View Park, Davis gathered the team and said, “The most important thing in tournament play is taking it one match at a time.”

Davis reminded them that some of the best tournament players are successful because they don’t know who their next round opponent is going to be until after they finish their current match.

With two tickets to the state tournament at stake at every position, Davis hopes he has the words of wisdom that his players take into today’s Region 1 Tournament at the Elliott Tennis Center at Mesa State College.

“The girls played well this year, and we didn’t have a lot of weird losses that we shouldn’t have,” Davis said. “They just took care of business, and that will pay off.”

Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott has her players approach the tournament with the same “one match at a time” mind-frame.

“You have to win all the way through, so it doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Elliott said. “So as far as match-ups, I really didn’t look too far in depth.”

Fruita Monument, Grand Junction, Central, Durango, Columbine, Chaparral, Dakota Ridge and Mountain Vista are competing in the two-day regional. The top two players from each bracket will advance to next weekend’s state tournament at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver.

“They have to be intense, but not be tense,” Davis said. “For each girl it’s different, but for the most part it’s a matter of being able to relax and play your game.”

Grand Junction leads the way with four No. 1 seeds, including its top three doubles teams.

Alyssa Behrens and Maddie Hayduk (No. 1), Liz Heaps and Samantha Weinberg (No. 2) and Emmie Madison and Alex Proietti (No. 3) all earned top spots after finishing the season 10-0 in dual matches.

All three teams are in their first year of playing together, and Madison said there’s pressure that comes with being a No. 1 seed.

“It sets up a name for us, so we have to live up to that,” Madison said. “But we’ve been preparing for this all season and Alex and I have been getting stronger, so we are ready for it.”

No. 2 singles player Jenny Jessup is the Tigers’ other No. 1 seed.

Fruita Monument’s Lindsey Henke (No. 1 singles) Janine Kirtland (No. 3 singles) received No. 1 seeds. Kirtland finished the regular season 11-0 and begins her tournament against Central’s Jasmine Poeppel at 9:15 this morning.

“Janine is so confident that it doesn’t surprise her when she wins,” Davis said. “Her goal was to go undefeated from the start, so this is one more step in the process.”

The four Front Range teams provide a different look to the tournament. Six of Mountain Vista’s seven positions bring at least nine dual wins to the regional.

The Golden Eagles ran into Grand Junction at the Phil Kraus Tournament earlier this season.

“It was nice to see them, but I’m sure they have that same approach that it was nice to see us,” Elliott said.

Columbine is the other Front Range team that should do well at the regional. The Rebels are led by the No. 4 doubles team of Jen Peterson and Molly Geoghegan, who finished 9-2 and earned the No. 1 seed.

“From the beginning, we knew it would come down to us, Junction, Mountain Vista and Columbine,” Davis said. “Now it’s just a matter of who it is going to go for it.”


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