OH, SO CLOSE
GJ's Weckerly comes up short in final
Cameron Weckerly’s never-quit attitude brought him close to being the No. 1 player at No. 2 singles Saturday in the Western Slope Open.
The Grand Junction High School junior fell behind in both sets against Regis Jesuit’s Kosta Garger, pulling within striking distance each time. Weckerly said afterward he wished he would have shifted momentum his way a bit sooner during his 6-4, 6-3 loss in the final at the Elliott Tennis Center.
“I don’t try to do it, but whenever I play, I usually start out slow and wind up coming back,” Weckerly said. “I don’t know why, but I knew that when he got up five-something or whatever he was up, I know he only had to win one more game. At that point, I can’t be bummed out if I want to give myself a chance to win.”
His effort helped Grand Junction finish sixth in the 16-team tournament. The Tigers scored 136 points, with Fruita Monument’s 100 points earning the Wildcats a 10th-place finish. Regis, which won all four doubles championships and two of the three singles titles, scored 203 points to win the team title.
Weckerly was one of two Grand Junction singles players to make the finals, with Luke Aubert dropping a 6-1, 6-1 decision to Regis’ Phillip Albright at No. 3. Both Weckerly and Aubert won matches against Regis on Thursday during a dual, which the Raiders won 4-3.
Regis, however, held out its usual No. 1 singles player, Morgan Schilling, with an injury, Grand Junction coach Carol Wilder said. That moved each of Regis’ other players up a spot in the lineup during the dual, but they all moved back to their regular spots for the Western Slope Open.
That provided much tougher finals matchups for Grand Junction, but that kind of stiff competition is what Wilder wants them to have.
“A lot of programs from over on the (Front Range) give you that next level you want to see,” she said. “They have some great tennis players who spend a lot of time making their games better. So it’s nice to be able to see that here at our tournament because, during the season, there’s a lot of times when we don’t see that.”
Garger, who lost in straight sets to Grand Junction’s Cal Hegstrom at No. 1 singles in the dual, showed tremendous agility and endurance in returning Weckerly’s cross-court and baseline shots. He went up 4-1 in the first set when Weckerly lobbed a ball over his opponent’s head near the back line. On the return, Garger lobbed it back over Weckerly’s head into the far-right corner of the court where there was no chance for a return.
Weckerly, down 5-1 early on, pulled within 5-4 before Garger closed out the set. In the second set, Weckerly pulled within 5-3 with an ace and an unforced error by Garger. Weckerly led 30-15 in the next game after a pair of backhands Garger couldn’t keep in play. The Regis junior followed with an ace and won the match after a pair of errors from Weckerly.
Aubert, who reached the final when he beat Fruita Monument’s Jackson Cesark 6-3, 6-0 in the No. 3 singles semifinals, fell behind thanks to an aggressive playing style by Albright, who is a freshman.
The Grand Junction junior said he can learn from the loss.
“I’m super proud of myself for making it to the finals of this tournament because (during) my sophomore and freshman year, I wasn’t able to do that,” Aubert said. “From here, I’m going to keep building on my game and hopefully, by the end of the year, I’m a lot better.”
Earning a third-place finish at No. 1 singles was Hegstrom, overpowering Air Academy’s Josh Voss 8-1 in a pro-set format. Cesark played for third place at No. 3 singles but lost 8-4 to Chatfield’s Josh Baker.