Giese, Ness enjoy playing each other at Taco Bell Western Slope Open

Drake Giese returns the ball Wednesday during his boys 16 semifinals match with Daniel Ness, below, in the Taco Bell Western Slope Open at Canyon Vew Park. Giese defeated Ness in three sets in what has become a familiar rivalry at the tennis tournament.

Daniel Ness returns the ball during his 16-year-old boys semifinal against Drake Giese at Canyon View Park during the Taco Bell Western Slope Open.

You would think in a tournament the size of the Taco Bell Western Slope Open, you would face different opponents every year.

That, however, isn’t always the case.

Often, the person across the net is someone you always seem to run into, regardless of where you are in the bracket.

A couple of boys and girls bumped into familiar foes Wednesday in the 53rd annual tournament.

Drake Giese and Daniel Ness usually end up playing each other every year during the tournament.

In the first three days of this year’s event, they’ve already played twice.

Carolena Campos and Aubrey Blocker have played each other three years in a row in the girls singles bracket. Wednesday, they squared off in back-to-back matches.

The matches are usually similar, but the results aren’t always the same.

After years of losing to Ness, Giese won the rematch Wednesday in the boys 16 semifinals at Canyon View Park.

“It’s been close matches, but he’s always won,” Giese said. “I had to bring it today.”

The match went three sets, just as it did Monday when Ness defeated Giese 2-6, 7-5, 10-6 in the boys 18 singles first round.

Wednesday, Giese defeated Ness 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 in the boys 16 semifinals. Giese plays Caleb Gartner today in the boys 16 finals. Gartner defeated Max Proietti 6-4, 7-5 in the other semifinal.

“It’s a little different playing him a second time,” Ness said. “Things changed. You have to mess with your strategy, but he outplayed me in this one.”

Ness used a backhand slice approach shot to his advantage in the boys 18 match, but couldn’t get away with it Wednesday.

“I was anticipating it,” Giese said. “I calmed down. I tried to keep the same strategy and it worked better.”

“Part of it is at the end of the match I’m a little bit tired and I started missing a lot of backhands,” Ness said.

He looked at Giese.

“Was that part of your strategy?”

Giese nodded, showing he had learned something about Ness’ game in all those matches against each other.

Despite the close matches, the boys, who are classmates in the International Baccalaureate program at Palisade High School, walked off the court still friends.

“It’s definitely challenging,” Ness said. “Our matches have always been close. I wish I could’ve pulled it out, but he deserves it, he’s been playing all summer. He probably should’ve beaten me the other time, too.”

“You expect a good match,” Giese said. “I always look forward to a good match instead of a blowout.”

Blocker couldn’t avenge her earlier loss to Campos, but is learning the challenge of playing a familiar opponent.

Campos defeated Blocker 6-1, 6-2 in the girls 14 finals at the Elliott Tennis Center, then turned around and beat her 6-3, 6-1 in the girls 16 semifinals at Canyon View. The matches were played back-to-back Wednesday morning.

“She’s hard (to beat),” Blocker said. “She doesn’t give up. She’s really good.”

Campos said it was tougher to beat Blocker a second time.

“She was warmed up,” Campos said. “It’s fun playing against her. She is experienced and makes me better. She runs people around the court.”

The 13-year-old girls first met in the Western Slope Open three years ago, when they played in the 10-under division. They’ve played each other every year since.

They usually meet in the finals of their division. That held true in the 14 singles, and they had an additional meeting in the older division in the semifinals.

“It feels better playing someone you know and what they do,” Campos said. “It takes the nerves off knowing your opponent.”

Campos plays Anne Hughes in the girls 16 final today. Hughes defeated Keira Trujillo 6-4, 2-6, 10-2 in the other semifinal.


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