Junction’s Daniel Ness makes semis at No. 2 singles
DENVER — Now Daniel Ness remembers what he missed about varsity tennis.
The Grand Junction High School senior qualified for the Class 5A state tennis tournament in doubles as a freshman and sophomore, placing fourth his second year.
Last season, wanting to improve his distance running, he went out for cross country.
“This is especially the part I missed,” he said, taking in the atmosphere Thursday at the Gates Tennis Center.
He’s making the most of his final opportunity, winning the first two rounds in the No. 2 singles competition to advance to this morning’s semifinals.
Ness won his opening match in three sets over Cutter Esson of Boulder.
He promptly let the first set of his quarterfinal match against Arapahoe’s Jake Becker get away, squandering a 4-1 lead to lose 7-5.
After both broke serve, Ness went up 4-3 in the second set and won the next two games.
He broke service to open the third set and cruised to a 6-0 victory.
“I started to make mistakes,” he said of his lapse in the first set, many of Becker’s points coming on hitting errors by Ness. “I was trying to be too perfect.”
His strategy for the final set and a half was to hit high, arching lobs to Becker, something Ness had done with little success early in the match.
“I finally figured out how to lob again,” he said. “I hit them deeper. It makes all the difference.”
Ness was hardly Grand Junction’s only success story of the first day, although he was the only Western Slope entry to advance to the semifinals.
Aaron Gossage lost his No. 3 singles quarterfinal in straight sets to Derek Wright of Monarch after defeating Erich Nuss of Regis Jesuit in straight sets.
The No. 1 doubles team of Max Proietti and Matt Prinster, the No. 2 team of Matthew Ness and Brian List and the No. 4 team of Ben Arja and Ian Hegstrom all won first-round matches in straight sets and lost their quarterfinals in the same fashion.
Also dropping a quarterfinal match was the Fruita Monument No. 3 doubles team of Colton Reimer and Sam Graf. They won in the opening round and lost in the second round, both in straight sets.
Grand Junction’s No. 1 singles player, Jacob Lapkin, lost in the first round. After losing the first set to Chatfield’s John Koza 6-1, Lapkin came back to win the second set 6-3.
He looked to be on cruise control after building a 5-1 lead in the third set but gave up the next six games to lose 7-5.
Also losing in the first round at No. 1 singles was Fruita Monument’s Matt Harris, who fell 6-1, 6-2 to Vignesh Senthilvel of Mountain Vista.
The Wildcats’ No. 1 doubles team of Kelson Reimer and Gabriel Treider lost in three sets to Denver East, falling 6-2 in the third set.
Fruita’s No. 4 doubles duo of Blaine McCormick and Ben Bishop fell in straight sets to Denver East.
All players except Daniel Ness now play a waiting game today to see if they can advance to the playback rounds.