Perfect way to prepare
Lapkin's win over Harris keys Tigers' regional title
Jacob Lapkin didn’t lose a set Thursday on his way to winning the No. 1 singles championship for Grand Junction High School in the Class 5A Region 4 boys tennis tournament.
He wasn’t the only one.
Grand Junction won five of seven titles at the Elliott Tennis Center without dropping a set to pick up an insurmountable lead on the first day to win the team title. The Tigers have 70 points, well ahead of second-place Fruita Monument with 37. Monarch is third with 34 points.
Playbacks to determine third place, followed by playbacks for the second qualifying spot, begin at 8 this morning. The top two players or doubles teams from each bracket advance to the state tournament Oct. 10-12 in Denver.
Lapkin cruised into the championship match against Fruita Monument’s Matt Harris. After a first-round bye, the sophomore dispatched Monarch’s Jason Ferry 6-3, 6-1 to face Harris, who Lapkin called “the best high school player in the valley.”
“(Harris) just doesn’t miss,” Lapkin said. “You have to go right at him because he won’t miss.”
It took blazing serves and a strong forehand for Lapkin to top Harris, 6-4, 6-1. Lapkin didn’t consistently find his serve until the second set, and was worn down by Harris’ ability to place shots into every area of the court.
“I mean I’m exhausted after playing him,” Lapkin said. “But it’s good preparation for the state tournament. I’m going to see guys that play exactly like that. He uses the entire court, he plays hard and plays smart.”
Lapkin pulled away in the second set with numerous forehand shots that Harris couldn’t reach.
Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott agreed that an opponent like Harris will prepare Lapkin for the state tournament, but said Lapkin will need to be more aggressive to compete at the state tournament.
“Jacob is hitting the ball and he has a lot of quality weapons,” Elliott said. “When his serve is on, he’s at the top of his game. If we can get him to be a little more active, a little more footwork ... sometimes he likes to sit back and let his opponent make mistakes.
“He’s going to see players at the state tournament that won’t make a lot of mistakes. So we want to push the issue a little more at state and have him go after his opponents.”
Back on track
The Tigers’ No. 2 singles player, Daniel Ness, needed some time to clear his mind, so he took three days off to rest and mentally prepare for quality opponents before the regional tournament. The extra time off led to 6-1, 1-0 win in the regional championship after his opponent, Jason Nguyen of Monarch, retired with a migraine.
“I just needed the time off to get back on track,” Ness said. “I just rested and tried to make sure I wouldn’t think so much on the court. I had been struggling the last few weeks but I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting it back.”
Double the production
Elliott said she was proud of the Tigers’ double teams, three of which (Nos. 1, 2 and 4) won regional titles.
Matt Prinster and Max Proietti topped Fruita’s Gabe Treider and Kelson Reimer 6-1, 6-4 at No. 1 doubles.
Grand Junction’s No. 2 doubles team of Matthew Ness and Brian List won 6-2, 6-3, and Ben Arja and Ian Hegstrom beat the Wildcats’ duo of Blaine McCormick and Ben Bishop 6-3, 6-1 for the No. 4 regional title.
“One and two (doubles) are playing very well when they’re picking each other up,” Elliott said. “They have the game to do some damage at state. Those teams, all 16 of them, are solid all the way through.
“You can’t have any mental lapses. I think this year, like any team, we’ve been prone to some mental lapses. But in order to compete at state we’ll have to work past that.”
Fruita’s No. 3 doubles team of Colton Reimer and Sam Graf won the No. 3 doubles championship 6-2, 6-1.
THERE’S A CHANCE…
Grand Junction’s No. 3 singles player Aaron Gossage might have to play another match to earn his trip to state after falling to Monarch’s Derek Wright 6-7 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4 in the finals.
Gossage will be rooting for Fruita’s Scott Nolan to win his third-place match to avoid a playback.
What would be a burden for Grand Junction would be a boon for Central.
Central plays five third-place matches this morning, needing to win to get a playback for a second-qualifier spot.
Lael Nordstrom (No. 2 singles), Jon Leonard and Camren Thomas (No. 1 doubles), Brent Bollinger and Trace Levinson (No. 2 doubles), Ryan Larsen and Bringham Beckstead (No. 3 doubles), John Taber and Josh May (No. 4 doubles) all have opportunities to earn a trip to state if they win two matches today.
“In every one of the matches we’re going to play, most of them we’re facing Monarch,” Central coach Kathy Elliott said. “Monarch has shown they can score a lot of points. They can obviously play some tennis, so we’ll have to play really well to beat them.”
Fruita Monument’s Harris (No. 1 singles), Gabe Treider and Kelson Reimer (No. 1 doubles) and Blaine McCormick and Ben Bishop (No. 4 doubles) all lost in championship matches and will have to play a second-qualifier match depending on third-place matches today.