Home not so sweet: Former Fruita Monument star Johnson loses in second round of Elam Classic

Richard Johnson was hoping his stay at the Elam Classic would be a lot longer, but the former Fruita Monument player lost Friday in the second round to Stephen Nolen 6-4, 6-3.

Richard Johnson was hoping for one more good run this summer, starting with the Elam Classic.

The former two-time Fruita Monument High School state champion and Pepperdine University player realized his professional tennis career may be coming to an end, and is making plans for the future.

Johnson, the No. 6 seed, was upset Friday by Stephen Nolen of Centennial 6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the 50th annual tournament at Canyon View Park.

“He was a step up from what I’ve been practicing,” Johnson said. “He is a good player.

“I never got my return going. He played smart. He didn’t let me get into a rhythm.”

Johnson starts law school this fall at the University of Colorado. He played on the Futures Tour for a year and a half and earned one Association of Tennis Professionals tour point.

Johnson reached the semifinals of the Elam Classic last year, losing to Clancy Shields.

“He’s a great player,” Nolen said. “He’s got some big strokes. He takes bigger cuts at the ball and it was tougher for him to get his timing down. I stayed focused. It was good competing again.”

Nolen returned to the game two years ago and plays on weekends. The former University of Virginia No. 1 singles player is an investment analyst.

He plays No. 3 seed Oren Motevassel in the quarterfinals at 8:30 this morning at Canyon View Park. One other quarterfinal takes place at 8:30 a.m. and the other two at 9:30 a.m.

The semifinals are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. today and the singles final is at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

“I don’t know much about him,” Nolen said of Motevassel. “I’ll go out and control what I can control and stay focused.”

Top seed Cory Ross began his quest for a record fifth Elam Classic title with a relatively quick 6-0, 6-1 victory over Paul Williams. Defending champion Clancy Shields of Grand Junction defeated another Grand Junction player, Ben Scissors, 6-3, 6-4.

Motevassel survived a tight first set to defeat Trent Broach 7-5, 6-2. Fourth-seeded Phillip Eilers and No. 5 seed Luke Shields advanced, but not without a challenge. Eilers and Shields will meet for the first time in the quarterfinals at 9:30 a.m.

Luke Shields is coming off a recent singles and doubles championship in the Ken Graff Open in Salt Lake City. He was an assistant coach for his alma mater, Boise State University, last fall and is looking for a head college coaching position.

Eilers, who is from Germany, plans to play some more money tournaments this summer and entered the Elam Classic with college teammate Stephen Jacobs, whose grandmother lives in Grand Junction.


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