Home is where the court is for Weinberg

Tendinitis inflamed his right wrist, so the tennis player went back to a sport where using hands draws a penalty.

But soccer threatened to entice Grand Junction High School senior Spencer Weinberg away from the sport he calls “home.”

In Argentina, where Weinberg spent this year’s spring semester as part of a foreign-exchange program, soccer is ace. Weinberg has played soccer since he was 4. Yet it was tennis in which he was a state singles champion as a sophomore and runner-up as a junior. But now, with tendinitis in the right wrist that twists or locks to snap a top-spin or backspin forehand or backhand, Weinberg was sucked into soccer.

Only for a moment.

After not playing tennis for six months, Weinberg returned to Grand Junction in July.

And took up tennis.

He couldn’t leave his team for his senior season.

For Weinberg, home also is where the tennis ball bounces.

Weinberg often speaks in a kind, mellow tone, and at about 5-foot-10 with a build he admits wasn’t programmed to bend running backs, you wouldn’t know he’d be so tenacious during those grueling, spirit-testing rallies.

“Tennis is my home, and (coach) Carol (Elliott) is my mentor and teacher and friend,” Weinberg said. “And the team as well. I can’t just walk away from everything.”

He expects to be playing No. 1 singles today and Saturday during the Western Slope Open at Colorado Mesa University’s Elliott Tennis Center.

The wrist is painful.

But he doesn’t think about it.

Excuses are like unforced errors — they can’t happen.

“It’s the last season I’ll be playing high school with everybody,” Weinberg said, “before it gets to the next level.”

The plan, Weinberg said, is to graduate this winter and play tennis next spring at CMU. Then he said he might like to play at Northern Arizona University or the University of Arizona.

“Right now I don’t want to think about college, though,” Weinberg said.

He will continue rehabbing his wrist and, if all goes well, handle opponents regardless.

“I was hoping he was going to be rusty,” said Fruita Monument’s Nick Ruttan, who last month lost to Weinberg 6-2, 6-0. “He was a little off the first three games, then he just shook it off.”

Weinberg said he stayed in shape playing soccer, and so he mostly needs to get back his flow. In his first match of the season against Ruttan, Weinberg’s feel for tennis chortled and crackled and sprayed until finally out poured the flow. He won 11 consecutive points.

“Spencer has a lot of history that carries him through matches,” Tigers coach Carol Elliott said.

Weinberg thinks it’s his mind that perhaps gives him a tennis advantage. The angles, the emotions — it’s math and psychology and quick-thinking that make Weinberg’s physical traits a bit of a mystery.

Traits like his nagging wrist, which is just another tool.

“It functions, it works,” Weinberg said. “I’ve just got to fight through the pain. I’ve got to grind, and that’s what tennis is about.”


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