Madison, Proietti cruise past Creek to win No. 3 doubles crown
DENVER — Emmie Madison’s smirk said it all.
The Grand Junction High School tennis player patrolled the net with a sneer that oozed confidence, as her partner, Alex Proietti, served Saturday during the No. 3 doubles championship at Gates Tennis Center.
Madison’s sly smile grew with every huge overhand the Tigers hit and with every point and game they won against Cherry Creek’s Caroline and Alexa Warly.
Madison’s excitement increased as the Tigers’ duo put together a dominating 6-2, 6-1 win for the state title.
“I didn’t expect it to be that way,” Madison said. “I visualized it that way, I wanted it to be that way, but it wasn’t how I expected it.”
Simply put, Proietti and Madison rolled. The pair grabbed the momentum from the opening serve, and weren’t intimidated by Cherry Creek’s prestige.
“I don’t think the Cherry Creek team knew what hit them,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “They were on their heels, and Alex and Emmie did a great job of making sure Cherry Creek didn’t know what was coming.”
The second set was a perfect example of not being scared. After Proietti and Madison won the first set 6-2, the duo jumped to a 5-0 lead in the second set.
“We didn’t get ahead of ourselves and stayed in the point,” Proietti said. “We knew we worked our hardest all year both mentally and physically, and when we got on the court, we were going to leave it all out there.”
Proietti and Madison’s championship was the first for Grand Junction since 2007 when Alyssa Behrens and Katie Aust won — also at No. 3 doubles.
Although Madison didn’t have any experience at state, that shortfall didn’t keep the duo from setting their sets high at the beginning of the season.
“From day one, we told each other we were going to win state,” Proietti said. “We got really close over the year, and it was the best partner (coach Elliott) could have put me with.”
Grand Junction No. 2 singles player Jenny Jessup was also competing for a state title but lost to Cherry Creek’s Brittany Warly 6-2, 6-1.
Jessup said she plays a slower style that can give players trouble, but Warly was able to capitalize on her approach.
“She took advantage of all my short shots, (whereas) the other people I play they don’t know how to do that,” Jessup said. “ She took advantage of a lot of shots I had, so the way I played didn’t work against her.”
Jessup’s second-place finish wraps up an impressive career for the Tigers’ senior — a top-four finish in three of her four years.
Jessup also improved on a one-and-done performance last year at No. 2 singles.
“This year beat all my expectations,” Jessup said. “I was happy to help out the team, getting 10 points and making it to the finals.”
Grand Junction had two other spots competing on the final day as Tigers’ No. 1 doubles team of Maddie Hayduk and Alyssa Behrens lost to Ponderosa’s Melissa Skovira and Calley Lafon 6-2, 6-1 in a third-place match.
“I am really proud of what we did,” Hayduk said. “We dug out of a lot of bad situations, and played better each match this year.”
The No. 4 doubles team of Kylie Pond and Madison Gurley also finished fourth, losing to Chatfield’s Carrie Ford and Chelsee Esmailli 7-5, 7-6. This year was the first trip to state for both Pond and Gurley.
“Honestly I didn’t think we would make it this far,” Gurley said. “You hope, but I was talking to the girls this morning saying I didn’t bring enough clothes because I didn’t think I would be here today.”
Grand Junction finished fourth as a team with 33 points. Cherry Creek took home the team title with 71 points. The Tigers were also awarded with the sportsmanship award.
“It’s awesome,” Tigers No. 2 doubles player Samantha Weinberg said. “I think it was due to our cheering, and how we supported each other.”
At Pueblo City Park, Steamboat Springs’ Kylee Swiggart and Sara Bearss captured a state title at No. 1 doubles, topping Alyson Waloch and Alex Lehnert of Greeley West 5-7, 7-5, 6-3.
After losing the first set, the Sailors’ duo jumped to a 4-1 lead in the second set, only to see the lead evaporate as Waloch and Lehnert came back to tie the score 5-5. Swiggart and Bearss closed out the set and then the match with a straightforward third set.
“We got too comfortable with our score, Swiggart said of the second-set letdown. “We were just assuming the next two games would come to us rather than having to work for them. Finally we both realized we needed to either (play better) or go home.”
Steamboat coach John Aragon was proud of the way Swiggart and Bearss played in the title match.
“It was like a roller coaster, going up and down,” he said. “They way they played over the last four games. That’s the level of tennis we can see from them. They handled the pressure really well.
“Our girls wanted it today, and they got it. They deserved it. They’re a quality team.”