GJ hopes for strong showing at state tennis tourney
The Class 5A state boys tennis tournament begins today at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver.
Grand Junction will be represented at Nos. 1 and 3 singles, and Nos. 1, 3 and 4 doubles. Fruita Monument has one representative, at No. 3 singles.
The Tigers won two regional titles last weekend — Luke Aubert at No. 3 singles and the team of Matt Miller/Ryan Bowen at No. 1 doubles.
Miller and Bowen are seniors and the two have qualified for state the past three years. The duo teamed up as sophomores before partnering with different players as juniors.
They went 10-6 in the regular season and play Nick Stephenson/Jake Hall (8-3) of Arapahoe in the first round.
All first-round matches begin at 9 a.m. The first two rounds are today and the semifinals and playback matches will be Friday. Finals and third-place matches will be on Saturday.
Aubert, who went 12-7 in the regular season, is a sophomore making his first trip to state. He faces Hayden Smith (7-6), a junior from Ponderosa in the first round.
Aubert defeated Fruita’s Trigg Hayward (6-6) in the regional final. Hayward, a freshman, still earned a state berth and opens the tournament against Regis senior Erich Nuss, who went 19-1 on the season.
The Grand Junction No. 4 doubles team of senior Matthew Martinez and sophomore Joseph Hirschbuhl had to battle back and win their playback match to qualify for state.
The team lost out on a regional title after winning the first set and losing the next two. It took an emotional rebound to get ready for the playback match.
“It was definitely tough but it makes me stronger as an individual and as a teammate,” Hirschbuhl said about the loss in the finals.
After dropping the first set in the playback match, the Grand Junction duo had to regroup again.
“We just realized that we’re better than that. It’s all in the head for me and Matt and we had to overcome that,” he said. “Now we’re looking forward to seeing what we can do at state.”
Martinez and Hirschbuhl went 12-5 in the regular season and will take on Brandon Krzyzkowski/Tyler Li (15-3) of Fossil Ridge in the first round.
Grand Junction sophomore Cameron Weckerly (8-12) has shown steady improvement through the season at No. 1 singles. The transfer from Niwot will take on Heritage junior Skyler Gates, who has an 12-1 record on the year, in the first round.
At No. 3 doubles, the Grand Junction team of freshman Riley King and junior Tommy Mahre (10-5) finished second at regionals and will play Jon Obregon/Daniel Sanderson (2-1) of Denver East to open the tournament.