Longevity key for Aspen’s tennis program

EXTRAS


Aspen No. 2 singles player Taylor Lambert hits against Tyler Zimmerman of Central.



The game of tennis is about the players.

And for high school coaches, sometimes you get the players and sometimes you don’t.

Right now Aspen has the players.

The Skiers are led by freshmen at No. 1 and No. 2 singles in Brian Mehall and Taylor Lambert.

Both played competitively in Friday’s opening day of the Western Slope Invitational at the Elliott Tennis Center at
Mesa State College as Lambert defeated Central’s Tyler Zimmerman in his first match 6-0, 6-1. Mehall played well, but lost in the first round to Air Academy’s Ben Swain 6-1, 7-5.

“We are looking for four strong years from both of them,” Aspen assistant coach Torre said. “We have high hopes for them as players and people.”

The pair had seen solid competition leading up to the tournament earning wins against both Fruita Monument and Grand Junction.  Lambert is 5-0 and has been prepared for his freshman season by playing in Intermountain tournaments for the past four years.

“It was good preparation because when I was 10, I was playing in the 12s and when I was 12, I played 14s,”
Lambert said. “I have always been playing people older than me so I have no trouble handling power.”
It didn’t take long for Lambert to be tested as he faced Cherry Creek’s Taylor Sargent in the second round. Lambert lost to Sargent 6-1, 6-1.

“Seniors from Denver are really good because they play year round as well and have four years on me,” Lambert said. “I am trying to get as much practice as I can before regionals and get a chance to play as many older players because No. 1 and No. 2 players are usually older and are really tall and powerful.”

Torre said Lambert seeing a player of Sargent’s quality was just what the Skiers were hoping to get out of the tournament whether Lambert won or lost.

“Our region is not necessarily the toughest region in Colorado so our hopes are that we get to see what the next level of tennis is all about,” Torre said. “So when we get to the state tournament, which we are hoping to do with some of these players, they are ready because this is that type of atmosphere.”

The atmosphere was felt by players from the Grand Valley as well. No local singles players were able to stay in the winner’s bracket through day one. Fruita Monument’s No. 1 singles player Tristan Beck lost in the first round to Fairview’s Dave Warren 6-1, 6-0.

“We have gotten to see some real good competition out of Denver,” Beck said. “These kids are really good players.”

Central’s No. 1, Isaac Brown, lost in the first round to Ralston Valley’s Eric Honert 6-0, 6-0 and Grand Junction’s No. 1, Owen Gartner, fell in the second round to Cherry Creek’s Harry Jewett 6-1, 6-0.

“This is defiantly a strong group of boys players,” Central coach Steve Tyler said. “Look at Fairview’s No. 3, he could easily be a No. 1 player at a lot of schools.”

Cherry Creek’s singles lived up to the expectations as bothSargent and No. 3 player Connor Macey made it to today’s finals.

Grand Junction does have one team in the championship today as the Tigers’ No. 2 doubles team of Jake Frankhouser and Greg Coleman take on Fairview’s Cass Krughoff and Blake Wetherbee.

“The boys got to see where they are at,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “There are a lot of good teams here and I am happy because we are competing well.”

Championship matches begin today at 9 a.m.


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