Fruita wins first SWL tennis title in 18 years
Channing Hayward enjoys a lot of perks of being a high school senior.
The Fruita Monument High School girls tennis team captain picks the uniforms the team wears for matches and occasionally has permission to pick practice drills.
“It’s kind of fun being the person with most authority,” Hayward said. “It’s fun being in charge since I was the only (senior).”
Hayward, though, is enjoying something much bigger — the Wildcats’ first Southwestern League title in more than 18 years after defeating Durango 6-1 on Saturday at Canyon View Park.
“We’ve done so good this season, beating (Grand) Junction,” she said. “That’s the first time its happened in so long. It feels good doing that my last year.”
The league title didn’t seem like a realistic goal at first.
Fruita Monument had four returning players this season after losing six players to graduation and another to a season-ending injury.
“The goal was to get everyone we could to state,” Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. “(Winning league) is icing on the cake. We still have the cake next week. This is a really nice accomplishment. It will be fun to see ‘10 on the (league champions) banner.
“It was unexpected after we lost all those great players we had last year. It’s been a really fun year.”
The Wildcats (10-0, 5-0 SWL) will try to qualify as many players as possible for the Class 5A state tournament in the regional tournament Thursday and Friday at Canyon View Park and Mesa State College.
Fruita Monument got a start on cake, celebrating their league title with one after Saturday’s victory.
It didn’t take long for them to get to the cake, winning six of the matches in straight sets.
Hayward (7-3 in duals) led the way, defeating Durango’s Ellen Southworth 6-0, 6-0 at No. 2 singles.
“It’s more about how good I play than the score, but I played good, so it felt good,” Hayward said. “After our Denver tournament (George Washington Invitational two weeks ago), I got in my groove for the season and have played really good. The more I play, the better I get.”
Janine Kirtland gutted out a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Sloan Phillips at No. 1 singles and Taryn Moon defeated Sierra Lillard 6-1, 6-2 at No. 3 singles.
The Wildcats won three of four doubles matches, including McKenzie Kimball and Emily McGovern’s 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 3.
Durango’s only win came at No. 2 doubles and it took a third-set 10-point tiebreaker against two girls playing their first varsity match.