Injury-forced move to doubles paying off for Fruita junior

Grand Junction’s Maddie Hayduk returns a shot from Fruita Monument’s Janine Kirtland on Thursday during a 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory at No. 1 singles in the first round of the Class 5A Region 6 tournament. Hayduk lost in the semifinals to Castle View’s Shannon Hickey, who plays Central’s Aimee Basinski for the regional title.

Fruita Monument High School tennis player Grace Gaglione decided she’d rather play with pain than not play at all.

Thursday at the Elliott Tennis Center, Gaglione and her No. 2 doubles partner, Sierra Segrest, won two matches on the first day of the Class 5A Region 6 tennis tournament.

Gaglione and Segrest defeated Castle View’s Lauren Harding and Rebecca Bennett 6-1, 6-0, then defeated Central’s Megan Bauer and Emma Beckstead 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals.

Gaglione began the season at No. 2 singles, but patellar tendinitis flared up in both her knees after the Western Slope Open in late March.

Gaglione said the pain was too great to be able to play singles. The junior — who had played No. 2 and No. 1 doubles her first two years — went back to having a partner on the court.

“Going to doubles helped,” Gaglione said. “I do a lot less running and it’s a lot less stress on my knees.”

Gaglione’s knee problem didn’t dissipate once she went to doubles. She played in the George Washington tournament in mid-April, but had to miss three out of the next four dual matches.

“I’ve had to miss a chunk of the season, and after the George Washington tournament, I thought there was no way I could play again,” Gaglione said. “But I’ve realized that I’d rather play and be in pain than be sitting on the sidelines and watching.”

Gaglione said a lot of the credit for her being able to play goes to her partner.

“Sierra is amazing,” Gaglione said. “We have a plan where she’s more at the net than I am so she does more running. It’s been nice to be out there with her.”

Gaglione qualified for state as a freshman, and said she’s excited to have a chance to make it back even if it’s not where she first imagined.

“At first I was a little disappointed because I worked so hard to get where I was at No. 2 singles,” Gaglione said. “But sometimes things happen to athletes, and you have to roll with the punches. I’ve realized I love doubles.”

Gaglione and Segrest play Grand Junction’s Nicky Arja and Stephanie Skinner in today’s finals.

The Wildcats have five spots in today’s finals.

“There was a lot of pressure and everyone responded well,” Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. “We thought if we got through today unscathed, we’d have a good shot to get to state. We are hoping it holds true.”

Grand Junction had six of seven spots make the finals, excluding No. 1 singles Maddie Hayduk, who defeated Fruita Monument’s Janine Kirtland 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, but lost a three-set match to Castle View’s Shannon Hickey 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals.

Hayduk defeated Eaglecrest’s Renee Christopher 6-3, 6-2 in a playback match.

“She doesn’t mind being out there and doing what she has to do to get wins for us,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “And overall we’ve had a good day.”

In the No. 1 singles spot, Central’s Aimee Basinski defeated Grandview’s Kelly Laughlin 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals. Basinski plays Hickey today at 9:30 a.m.

“I’ve learned I have to stay in every point,” Basinski said. “I’m focused on doing what I need to and not worrying about anything else.”

Central also has its No. 3 singles player, Katie Murphy, in the finals against Grand Junction’s Anna McGinnis.

“We’re proud of the way they’ve played (Thursday),” Central coach Kathy Elliott said. “They’ve been getting better every day, and they made a statement (Thursday).”

Grand Junction is leading the team scores with 53 points. Fruita Monument has 42 points and Central is in third with 40.

All finals matches begin today at 9:30 a.m.

Class 4A

Steamboat Springs has all seven spots in the finals at the Region 8 tennis tournament at Canyon View Park.

The Sailors’ No. 2 singles player Rachelle Steele-Cerone defeated Glenwood Springs’ Whitney Bridger 6-0, 6-0 in the semifinals.

Despite 12 teams in the tournament, the only other teams to make finals were Durango, Montezuma-Cortez, and Aspen.

Finals matches begin at 9 a.m.


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