GJ’s Weinberg moves easily into No. 1 singles final
DENVER — Naturally, Spencer Weinberg did his thing, keeping his cool while delivering one pinpoint shot after another.
And although Grand Junction’s doubles teams experienced an up-and-down ride during the second day of action Friday at the Class 5A state tennis tournament, the Tigers’ top tandem of Jacob Filutze and Caleb Gartner made certain Weinberg will not be the lone Tiger during today’s finals.
Filutze and Gartner turned in their second consecutive gutsy performance to earn a spot in the No. 1 doubles state championship match this morning at the Gates Tennis Center. After another straight-set victory, Weinberg will be aiming for his second consecutive state title at No. 1 singles.
Grand Junction will play for third place at No. 2 doubles (Max Proietti and Daniel Ness) and No. 3 doubles (Gabe Campos and Jeff Hansen).
“My partner and I have really supported each other a lot,” Gartner said. “We’ve been completely undefeated so far in the season, and that definitely helped us. We didn’t want to go down. We wanted to get to the final.”
Filutze and Gartner completed Thursday’s action with a thrilling three-set victory against Fort Collins in the second round, and the two juniors kept their momentum rolling Friday against Arapahoe’s Zach Cohen and Jeff Craig.
Filutze and Gartner play Cherry Creek’s Jack Greene and Spencer Anderson for the No. 1 doubles state title.
The Tigers won the first set against the Arapahoe pair but fell even after losing 7-4 in the second-set tiebreaker. However, Filutze and Gartner kept their composure to record a decisive 6-2 win in the final set.
The duo credited the support of their teammates and the Grand Junction cheering section that made the trip over the mountains for fueling their adrenaline down the stretch.
“Their crowd was trying to get us riled up, but we tried to cheer each other on,” Filutze said. “I think if all of our team wouldn’t have come back and started cheering for us, we probably wouldn’t have been able to do it. It kind of was a team effort.”
Weinberg calmly dismantled Boulder’s Jaron Belcher for a 6-2, 6-1 semifinal victory. The junior’s penchant for returning just about everything wore down and eventually frustrated the senior from Boulder.
Weinberg will play for his second consecutive No. 1 singles title against Highlands Ranch junior Hayden Sabatka. Weinberg said he has played against Sabatka several times on the club circuit, but they have not squared off in high school play.
“When they start getting mad, it just fuels me,” Weinberg said. “I’m not going to throw my racket or make noise. After the match, that’s a great feeling. Hayden is a good player and he has all the power shots. I’ve got to stay in top shape, which all season long I’ve been doing.”
Although Cherry Creek and Fairview pulled away from the Tigers in the team standings, Grand Junction turned in a solid performance in the playback rounds and will be in line for third place, the school’s best finish since it placed second in 2006.
Proietti and Ness rebounded from their semifinal loss at No. 2 doubles by defeating Denver East in straight sets to reach this morning’s third-place match. Campos and Hansen defeated Highlands Ranch after losing to Fairview in the semifinals.
After posting two epic wins during the first two rounds, Grand Junction’s No. 2 singles player, Luke Ledebur, ran out of gas in the semifinals in a 6-1, 6-2 loss to Cherry Creek’s Zach Fryer. Ledebur lost his playback match 6-3, 6-3 against Chatfield’s Nick Holmes.
“Two entrants in the finals, two for third and fourth place; the kids played well today, even in our losses,” Grad Junction coach Carol Elliott said.
“I’m not disappointed in any way with how our kids played today. They showed up and played tough. It will be our best finish (since 2006). Hopefully we can come out with four wins (today) and add some more points to the team score.”
Bryan Mehall of Aspen lost 6-4, 7-5 to defending state champion Harrison Lang of Niwot in the No. 1 singles semifinals in Pueblo.
Mehall was the only Western Slope player to reach the semifinal round.