Jessup plays for GJ’s first singles girls state title since 1996
DENVER — Luckily for Grand Junction High School tennis player Jenny Jessup, she’s patient.
Jessup’s unruffled play allowed her to get past Ponderosa’s Brittany Ricci 6-4, 6-2 in Friday’s second day of the Class 5A state tennis tournament at the Gates Tennis Center.
The win puts Jessup in the No. 2 singles final today at 9 a.m. against Cherry Creek’s Brittany Warly.
For most players at the tournament, playing for a state championship would be the highlight of their day. For Jessup, it’s just another thing on her to-do list.
Jessup’s older brother, Johnny, is graduating from Azusa Pacific University today at 6 p.m., so after her match with Warly, Jessup will board a plane for Los Angeles.
Jessup, a senior, has her own graduation to worry about as well.
“The plan is to fly there (today) after my match, then drive back Sunday to be back for graduation stuff on Monday,” Jessup said.
In her match Friday, Jessup took care of Ricci by forcing the big hitter from Ponderosa to play at a slower pace.
“I am so consistent that I was able to frustrate her,” Jessup said. “But I still try to win points. I still attack, get to the net and put away points when I have to.”
Ricci, who won the No. 3 singles title last season, took a 4-3 lead in the first set. Jessup adjusted, won the final three games and cruised in the second set.
“Once I found my game plan against her, I went for it,” Jessup said. “Against her, I had to stay mentally tough, and stay in the moment.”
Today won’t be Jessup’s first experience playing for a title. In 2006, she finished second at No. 3 doubles. It will also be Jessup’s second time facing a Cherry Creek team in the finals.
“You want to know your competition but at the same time you are playing the ball, not the person,” Jessup said.
Jessup is the first Grand Junction singles player to play for a championship since Molly Beyer (No. 2 singles) in 2003. Jessup could be the first singles player to win a championship since Nicola Bell (No.1 singles) in 1996.
Joining Jessup in today’s finals is the Tigers’ No. 3 double team of Alex Proietti and Emmie Madison. The duo defeated Ralston Valley’s Kristin Snyder and Solana Archuleta 6-7, 6-4, 7-5.
“We knew we had to keep fighting and play our best because they are a tough team,” Proietti said. “We weren’t worried about what else was going on except for the point.”
The duo takes on Cherry Creek’s Caroline and Alexa Warly who defeated Chatfield’s Jackie Hay and Leah Campbell 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
For first-time state competitor Madison, playing for a state championship is unexpected.
“I am overwhelmed right now. I almost started crying the last match,” Madison said.
The Tigers’ No. 1 doubles team of Maddie Hayduk and Alyssa Behrens lost in its semifinal match to Cherry Creek’s Stephanie McCauley and Caitlyn Shafner, 6-2, 6-3. The pair was able to work its way back though playbacks and play Ponderosa’s Melissa Skovira and Calley Lafon today in the third-place match.
The other Tigers team to make it out of playbacks was the No. 4 doubles team of Kylie Pond and Madison Gurley. The pair defeated Legacy 6-0, 6-2 and Ponderosa 6-2, 6-2.
Heading into today’s finals, Grand Junction has 30 points. Cherry Creek is in first with 62 points.
Fruita Monument ended the tournament with two team points after the Wildcats’ No. 2 doubles team of Grace Gaglione and Katie McGovern and No. 3 singles Janine Kirtland both won matches Friday, but both fell in the second round of playbacks.