GJ’s Weinberg set to defend No. 1 singles state crown
Spencer Weinberg knows everyone will be coming after him this season.
The Grand Junction High School junior, the defending Colorado High School Class 5A boys tennis No. 1 singles state champion, says he’s hungry for the challenge of being the man to beat.
“There are some good players out there, but I feel good about my game,” Weinberg said. “I think I’m more motivated than last year. I’m feeling confident.”
Weinberg, who took advantage of a wide-open field to win the state title, continued to work on his game.
He played a few tournaments this summer, reaching the Taco Bell Western Slope men’s open singles final, but he spent most of it working on his game with the Elliott family and Caleb Marquardt, a former state champion from Fruita Monument.
“It was more working on my strokes, the different styles, things I wasn’t comfortable with,” Weinberg said. “I’m trying to mix in a lot of offense.”
He is working on playing at a faster pace and taking advantage of more short balls without sacrificing his consistency.
Weinberg is one of nine returning state qualifiers for the Tigers, ranked fourth in the Denver Post preseason poll.
“We have a solid group returning,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “They have a lot of experience. We have quite a few kids that played a lot of tennis this summer. That’s neat to see because they have the hunger in them to get better not only as individuals, but to improve as a team.”
Senior Luke Ledebur is back at No. 2 singles after reaching the state quarterfinals last season. Junior Tate Hegstrom replaces his brother, Parker, at No. 3 singles.
Gabe Campos, Caleb Gartner, Jake Filutze, Daniel Ness, Jeff Hansen and Matt Prinster return and are competing for doubles positions. Max Proietti played several varsity doubles matches and will fill a doubles spot.
With nine returning players, Weinberg believes the team can accomplish big things.
“We have some great leaders out here and a lot of experience,” Weinberg said. “I think we’re going to be really good this year as a team.”
Elliott, though, is cautious when talking about possibly making school history.
“Right now, we’re going day by day and working individually,” Elliott said. “We’ll sit down and talk about what we want to accomplish.
“They know they have a chance to do some good things because of the number of kids returning and the hard work they put in this summer, but a lot of things have to fall in place.
“A lot of it is the belief system, believing you can compete with Regis, Cherry Creek and Fairview.”
Seven varsity players return for the Warriors, but none of them qualified for state.
Singles players Jesse Nordstrom and Drake Giese are back. Sophomore Jacob Bollinger will play singles after playing No. 3 doubles last season.
Ryler Colunga, Jon Leonard, Travis Liden and Kolten McClaskey also return. Lael Nordstrom, Jesse’s younger brother, will likely play No. 1 doubles.
“The good thing is we have no seniors on the team, so we’ll have them a little bit,” Central assistant coach Kathy Elliott said. “Bollinger played all summer. That’s why he was able to get a singles spot.”
The Wildcats will have to replace seven players from last season, but have three returning state qualifiers.
Senior Vinny Castellini will play No. 1 singles after qualifying for state at No. 2 last fall.
Senior Tucker Fortson moves up to No. 3 singles after going to state at No. 2 doubles, and Tucker McKenzie is back at No. 1 doubles.
Freshman Matt Harris earned the No. 2 singles spot.
“He played quite a few tournaments,” Fruita coach Clint Davis said. “He’s playing fantastic tennis.”
Matt Scofield returns and will play No. 2 doubles.
“With only returning four players you’d think it would be a tough year,” Davis said. “We have five incoming freshmen that all played a lot of tennis.”