GJ’s Weinberg motivated to claim No. 1 singles crown
DENVER — For a guy who keeps his cool on the tennis court like Spencer Weinberg, it’s hard to believe there is a drop of angry in him. But the Grand Junction High School senior promises he is swinging his racket like he has something to prove.
“I have a little chip on my shoulder this year,” said the 2010 No. 1 singles state champion. “I didn’t win it last year, but it’s given me motivation to come out here, have some fun and win another title along the way.”
Weinberg wasted little time proving he means business at the Gates Tennis Center on Thursday, tearing through his opening two rounds with straight-set victories. But it was not all smooth sailing for the Tiger, who got tested early in his quarterfinal match.
Cherry Creek’s Dan Steinhauser had Weinberg hopping, firing volley after volley off his powerful forehand in the opening set. But the Grand Junction player’s composure helped him endure a tiebreaker, then flourish the remainder of the match for a 7-6, 6-0 win.
“Tip of the hat to him, he brought it,” said Weinberg, who also said he is close to committing to playing at Colorado Mesa University. “We’re both seniors, and we both wanted it.”
Weinberg might have missed a chance at being a three-time state champion, bowing in the 2011 finals. But Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott believes the experience has helped her No. 1 singles player mature into a more dangerous player.
“I think more than anything, his game has developed through and through,” she said. “And he is mentally stronger… he doesn’t show his cards on the court, and nothing fazes him.”
Weinberg has a difficult draw today, facing 2011 third-place finisher Matt Sayre of Denver East. But he is not the only Tiger sweating out the semis. The team advanced four of its seven positions in the championship brackets. And although Elliott was pleased with her team’s showing, she was a bit shocked with some of the players knocked out of the mix.
“We had two disappointments early on, with our No. 1 doubles not making it through the first round,” said Elliott, whose team sat third in the standings Thursday with 14 points. “And our No. 2 singles, we expected him to make the semis. But overall it was a good day.”
What buoyed Elliott’s spirits was her lower doubles teams weathering the tournament’s early storms. This especially went for partners Matthew Ness and Charlie Ruckman. The No. 4 doubles partners were first-timers at state, but they handled their first two matches like old pros.
It was, from Ness’s point of view, the partners’ opening 6-3, 6-1 win over Mountain Range’s Grady Egan and Jacob Taylor that lit a fire under their performance.
“I think we proved we could keep up with all the Front Range competition with the win,” he said. “It gave us a lot of confidence. It proved to us we have what it takes to place.”
Fruita Monument struggled during the opening day at state. All three of the Wildcats’ doubles teams lost in straight sets in the first round. But Fruita’s No. 2 singles player, Matt Harris, won his first-round match in three sets. Then, Harris ran into one of the bracket’s most dominant players in the quarterfinals. The sophomore fell 6-0, 6-0 to Fairview’s Ignatius Castelino, who is undefeated on the season.