Montgomery, McGlade win men’s open doubles at Taco Bell Western Slope Open tournament

Grand Junction’s Mike Cox, blue, of Grand Junction, hits an overhead shot Sunday with partner Tao Thongvanh, of Fruita, as Grand Junction’s Chris McGlade, green, and Steamboat Springs’ Chris Montgomery wait to return during the men’s open doubles pickleball division championship of the Taco Bell Western Slope Open at Lincoln Park.

All Chris Montgomery and Chris McGlade needed Sunday during the second set of their championship match was to regroup.

Playing against Mike Cox and Tao Thongvanh in the final of the men’s open doubles pickleball division of the Taco Bell Western Slope Open Montgomery and McGlade were using pinpoint placement shots but trailed by five points thanks to the powerful point shots Thongvanh.

That’s when Montgomery an McGlade regrouped to talk over strategy, and it worked. The pair rallied for nine of the next 11 points to win the tournament title with an 11-5, 11-9 victory at Lincoln Park.

So what did they say to each other to turn things around?

“That we just needed to settle down and play our game,” said Montgomery, who is from Steamboat Springs. “You can get too amped up playing pickleball. Pickleball isn’t a game of power usually. It’s a game of consistency and not missing. And when they got up on us, we were just missing.”

No doubt, it was well=placed shots that helped McGlade and Montgomery rally. It was a power shot from McGlade, who lives in Grand Junction, that put his team up for good at 10-9 before a hit out of bounds by their opponents sealed the victory.

It was a quality victory since the 45-year-old Thongvanh, who lives in Fruita, is a level 5.0 player who travels to tournaments around the country. It was his power shots early in the second set that gave him and Cox an early 7-2 lead.

“Normally, you don’t win by hitting a lot of winners,” Thongvanh said. “You win by forcing mistakes on the other side. For a while, we forced them into making too many mistakes.”

That was also the case in the women’s open doubles championship match when Nikki Schmalz of Montrose and Stephanie McDonald of Buena Vista beat Grand Junction’s Linda Griffith and Judy Fairchild. The highly competitive match went three sets before Schmalz and McDonald prevailed 8-11, 13-11, 12-10.

Late in the third set, it appeared the Grand Junction pair would claim the title when they took a 10-7 lead. But Schmalz and McDonald rallied to score five unanswered points to win the title.

A total of 40 players participated in multiple brackets over the course of two days. It’s the third year pickleball has been part of the annual Taco Bell tournament. George Gerson, who helped run the event, said 40 players were the tournament maximum out because of lack of court space and time, so players weren’t out playing in triple-digit heat after noon.

Four more pickleball courts at Lincoln Park, however, were completed right next to the Lincoln Park tennis courts this past Thursday.

“Had we known that,” Gerson said, “We could have had a bigger tournament field this year.”

Over at the Elliott Tennis Center at Colorado Mesa, the finals of the Taco Bell wheelchair division were played. A pair of Grand Junction players emerged atop both respective brackets. Seth Richey defeated Kriss Burwell 6-1, 6-2 in the men’s singles final, and then the pair teamed up to beat Colby Kortum and Jason Arneson 6-4, 6-3 in the men’s wheelchair doubles final.


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