Pair of 16-year-olds win boys, girls 18 singles titles at Taco Bell

Aimee Basinski returns a shot Thursday during her match with Meredith Soychak in the 18 singles final during the Taco Bell Western Slope Open at Elliott Tennis Center. Basinski won her first Taco Bell title with a 6-4, 6-1 victory.

Two younger players proved Thursday they can play with the big kids.

Cameron Hicks of Irvine, Calif., and Aimee Basinski of Grand Junction, both 16 years old, won the Taco Bell Western Slope Open boys 18 and girls 18 singles titles at the Elliott Tennis Center.

Hicks, who came to the tournament with a friend, former Grand Junction resident Cooper Bridge, defeated Luke Ledebur of Grand Junction 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) in the boys 18 final.

“It’s a great honor to come here and be the only person out of state to win the tournament,” Hicks said. “Luke is a great opponent. He pushed me to the limit. I tried to reach within myself. I had five match points (in the tiebreaker) and got nervous. I had to push myself to close it out.”

Basinski won her first girls 18-under Western Slope title, defeating Meredith Soychak, 17, of Grand Junction, 6-4, 6-1.

It was especially gratifying for Basinski after she missed the tournament last summer for the first time in six years because of ankle injury.

“It was really hard,” Basinski said.

Both winners were down at least one service break at some point in the match, but rallied to win.

Hicks rebounded from a 3-0 deficit in the second set.

“I lost my focus,” Hicks said. “I guess I was excited winning the first set and coasted for a bit. I had to go back to my plan, hit a solid backhand and dictate play with my forehand.”

Although Ledebur was disappointed he couldn’t defend his boys’ 18 singles title, he was pleased with his play.

“I was hoping to defend my title, but sometimes things don’t go the way you want,” Ledebur said. “I couldn’t close out the sets.”

Ledebur has stayed busy playing tournaments this summer, and the Grand Junction senior is excited for the upcoming high school boys season, less than one month away.

Soychak, who played No. 3 singles for Fruita Monument last spring, built a 3-0 lead in the first set before Basinski answered.

“I was not thinking,” Basinski said. “I was going for winners. After I was down 3-0, I told myself, ‘I’ve got to get it together.’ I put my head into it and got the ball in play.”

Basinski won 12 of the next 14 games.

The match was a reminder of what the Central High School No. 1 singles player learned playing in her first high school state tournament two months ago.

“The thing I learned most is you have to have your head in the game,” Basinski said. “The competition is a lot harder.”

Basinski is the first Central No. 1 singles player in recent history to win a high school regional title.

Carolena Campos added the girls 16 singles title to go with her 14-under title. The 13-year-old defeated Anne Hughes 6-4, 7-5 in the 16 final.

Campos won the girls 14 title Wednesday.

Marygrace Prinster defeated Campos’ sister, Julianne Campos, 6-3, 6-1 for the girls 12 title.

Caleb Gartner won the boys 16 title with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) victory over Drake Giese.

Dillon Leasure of Carbondale won two boys singles championships, defeating Dylan Behr 2-6, 6-1, (10-6) for the boys 14 title and Alex Ilic 6-0, 6-0 for the boys 12 title.


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