GJ’s move ‘very classy’

Tigers default match so player can take ACT

Matt Miller returns a shot in a match Friday with No. 1 doubles partner Ryan Bowen during the Western Slope Open tennis tournament. The Grand Junction team defaulted its quarterfinal match despite needing one point to win, because Bowen will be taking the ACT today.

Matt Miller and Ryan Bowen of Grand Junction High School were one point away from advancing past Friday afternoon’s quarterfinal round of the Western Slope Open tennis tournament at Canyon View Park.

Then, to the surprise of many, they came to the net to say something to their opponents from Heritage.

“We default,” Miller told them.

“Say what?” was the reply.

“I said we default,” Miller repeated. “We’re not going to be here tomorrow.”

Dumbfounded, Heritage’s 
No. 1 doubles team of Justin Sperry and Jonathan Schreiber shook hands with the Grand Junction team, then walked off the court with raised eyebrows and smirks on their faces.

“I knew it was at match point, and I was saying to myself, ‘Man, we’ve gotta dig out of this hole somehow,’ ” Sperry said. “Then when he came over and said that, I was like, ‘Default what? The point? The match? What are you talking about?’ “

Instead of Miller and Bowen advancing to this morning’s semifinals with what could have been a 7-5, 6-3 victory had they scored at match point, Sperry and Schreiber advanced to play Regis Jesuit’s Luca Abbott and Will Dennen for a finals berth at Elliott Tennis Center. Semifinals for doubles begin at 9:15 a.m., with singles semifinals starting at 8 a.m.

Finals are scheduled for 11:15 a.m. for doubles and 10:30 a.m. for singles.

Those times, however, created a scheduling conflict for Bowen. Instead of playing for a shot at a tournament title, the Grand Junction senior will be taking the ACT for the third time.

To Bowen, his first two tries on the college placement test just weren’t good enough.

“I scored a 31 on my first try and got 30 the last time I took it,” Bowen said. “I want to get at least a 33.”

He added that his goal is to go to engineering school at Georgia Tech, Cal-Poly or Embry-Riddle (Florida). Each school prefers higher-than-average test scores for admission, which helped make the Tigers’ decision to default a little easier.

“I was disappointed at first, especially since he was being such a nerd,” Miller said with a smile. “But after we talked with (coach Carol Elliott), we knew it was the right thing to do.”

Elliott said it was a move made out of sportsmanship. If the Tigers had defaulted after a victory against Heritage, Regis would automatically go to today’s tournament final. So after that idea was eliminated, she entertained the option of putting a junior varsity player in Bowen’s place for today’s semis. Instead, she and her No. 1 doubles team came to the decision to give Heritage a chance to advance into the final.

Elliott added she had asked her players to make a similar sacrifice a few times in the past. Heritage was glad to be a recipient this time.

“It’s very surprising, but we’re very grateful,” Heritage assistant coach Hailey Johnson said. “It wasn’t a huge blowout match because the Grand Junction kids played out of their minds. The mind-set is always to get as many wins as you can, so for the opposing coach, and the host coach of the tournament, to do something like that is very classy.”

The Tigers still had a doubles team reach this morning’s semifinal even with Miller and Bowen dropping into the consolation bracket of the 16-team tournament.

Tommy Mahre and Riley King beat Jack Bender and Luke Borgerding of Steamboat Springs 6-4, 4-6, 10-6 and advanced to play Mountain Vista’s Brian Benson and Chris Schauer at No. 3 doubles.

Grand Junction No. 2 singles player Cal Hegstrom, along with Sam Welling and Josh Newhouse at No. 2 doubles, made it past their first-round matches.

Fruita Monument’s Trigg Hayward is the Wildcats’ lone semifinalist after his 6-3, 6-2 victory against Chatfield’s Zac Meyer at No. 3 singles.

Fruita’s No. 4 doubles team of KC Davis and Preston Vance dropped into the consolation bracket after a straight-set loss to Ryan Dicker and Carson McLeod of Heritage.


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