Pair make most of doubles play
Doubles tennis is a tradition at Grand Junction High School.
Nothing against the singles players, but of the 13 individual state championships won by the Tigers, 10 have been by doubles teams.
That number includes the most recent state title, won in 2007 by Alyssa Behrens and Katie Aust at the No. 3 doubles spot.
Although Aust graduated, two years later, Behrens is in her second year at No. 1 doubles and is ready to add another title.
“My goal is to try to take state in doubles one last time,” Behrens said. “I think we are prepped and primed to do it.”
With two of the three Tigers’ singles players being seniors, Behrens, now a junior, is in what will most likely be her final year as a doubles player.
Behrens moved up to No. 1 doubles last year and finished fourth in the state with partner
Audrey Keenan. Behrens has a fiery personality on the court, and isn’t overly fond of not succeeding.
“She is very competitive, and when it comes out, it’s awesome,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “In clutch situations, she hates to lose and you’ve seen that every year she has been at state.”
This year, Behrens is joined by one of last season’s No. 3 doubles players, sophomore Maddie Hayduk.
“It’s been different for me because the past two years, I have had partners who were older than me,” Behrens said. “With Maddie, I have taken a leadership role, and tried to help her transition because I knew what it was like to play No. 3 doubles and move up to No. 1.”
Hayduk was a state qualifier at No. 3 doubles last season and said her goal all offseason was to make the jump to No. 1 doubles. Hayduk won the spot, and for Elliott, the key has been boosting the young player’s confidence.
“We knew someone was going to have to play with Alyssa, so Maddie stepped forward in challenges,” Elliott said. “We have been working on her confidence all season long, because moving from three to one is a whole different level as far as competitiveness.”
The duo has already seen growth. After an early exit from the Western Slope Invitational, Hayduk and Behrens dominated at last weekend’s Phil Kraus Invitational. They won the
No. 1 doubles bracket and defeated Colorado Academy, Grandview and Mountain Vista along the way.
“That showed me that if I am aggressive, we can do so much,” Hayduk said. “We play really well together, and are reading each other really well.”
Behrens said it was the best tennis she has ever played, and the success helped her relationship grow with Hayduk.
“Our last match, we played a team that was very similar and that challenged us mentally,” Behrens said. “But we were solid, and it was really a lot of fun.”
Physically, the talent is there with the pair, but what could set this duo apart is their mental strength. Hayduk said she and Behrens have taken a killer-instinct approach to every match.
“We are not slacking off,” Hayduk said. “Even if we have a match in the bag, we still have a 0-0 approach and try to not give them any points.”
After taking a few matches to get a good rhythm going, Eliott thinks Behrens and Hayduk are playing their best tennis when it counts.
“They have meshed great,” Elliott said. “They both are very competitive, and they carry that onto the court and are going to do some great things.”
Hayduk and Behrens are in the final stretch of their regular season with duals against Central and Fruita Monument still remaining. The Tigers have their first of two dual matches with
Central when they host the Warriors today at 4 p.m.