One month after picking up his racket again, Harris playing for Taco Bell Western Slope Open title

Matt Harris, 12, of Grand Junction returns the ball during his singles game at Mesa State College’s Elliott Tennis Center against 11-year-old Charles Dorfman of Aspen during the Taco Bell Tennis tournament.



By ALLEN GEMAEHLICH
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When he watched Roger Federer and Andy Roddick duke it out for the Wimbledon men’s singles title, Matthew Harris got the itch to play again.

It wasn’t that the Grand Junction 12-year-old was burned out before, he simply plays so many sports, isn’t not uncommon for one to get set aside for awhile.

Federer’s historic win, a record 15th Grand Slam singles title, simply inspired Harris to start playing more tennis.

“I haven’t been playing a whole lot,” Harris said. “I started four weeks ago after watching Wimbledon.”

This week, he is playing in his first Taco Bell Western Slope Open in three years and is doing quite well.

He defeated Charles Dorfman of Aspen 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 in the boys 12-under singles semifinals Thursday at the Elliott Tennis Center at Mesa State College.

Like the Federer-Roddick match, Harris and Dorfman played for quite a while — the first set alone took one hour, 40 minutes.

Harris started playing twice a week with his older brother and his dad, but wasn’t nervous playing in the Taco Bell tournament.

“I’m playing for fun,” he said.

Harris wasn’t nervous when he was behind 5-2 and facing a set point against him, either.

“I started hitting my shots in and he got frustrated,” Harris said.

Harris plays basketball, baseball and golf in addition to tennis.

Harris faces Dylan Behr, 12, of Basalt in the final today.

“This has been the most amazing tournament I’ve ever played,” Behr said. “It’s really fun.”

Behr advanced after a three-set, three-hour marathon victory over Grand Junction’s
Jon Musgrave. Behr won 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3).

“It was a great match,” Behr said. “I’ve never played a three-set match before. It was the greatest match I’ve ever played.

“After the second set, I felt light-headed. It was hard to keep playing.”

Behr is playing in his first Taco Bell Western Slope Open. He started playing competitive tennis only 18 months ago.

Aubrey Blocker of Austin, Texas, won the girls 12-under singles title in a three-set victory over Carolena Campos of Grand Junction.

Blocker visits Aspen each summer and joins several other junior players who come to Grand Junction for the Taco Bell Western Slope Open.

Dillon Leasure of Carbondale won the boys 10-under singles title and Melissa Lamette of Grand Junction won the girls 10-under singles title. Both were round-robin draws.

The boys and girls 18-under, 16-under and 14-under singles finals are today.


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