Rally ‘Cat: Fruita’s Iden comes back to advance to 5A regional final
Cody Iden knew it wouldn’t be easy, then he realized he could be playing his last high school tennis match if he didn’t turn things around.
The Fruita Monument High School senior rallied from one set down to defeat Central’s Drake Giese, a freshman at Palisade, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the Class 5A Region 8 No. 3 singles semifinals Thursday at Canyon View Park.
“I was nervous going into it,” Iden said. “He’s a good player, especially for a freshman. I was determined to win.
“That’s what I was thinking the last set out there. If I lose this match, I’m not going to state. It gave me a little more momentum knowing it could be my last match.”
Iden advanced to the No. 3 singles final to face Grand Junction senior Parker Hegstrom. The region champion receives an automatic berth to the state championship tournament next week in Denver. The loser could face a challenge match against the third-place winner for the other state-qualifying berth. Iden is looking to qualify for state for the first time.
Hegstrom and the rest of his Grand Junction teammates advanced to the region finals, giving the Tigers the lead in the team score with 56 points.
“Everybody did a great job,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “Coming out, playing the ball and staying focused is the key. Our kids were able to play their game. I was very happy with how our kids handled some of the adversity (through the course of a match).”
The Tigers’ three singles players and four doubles teams were all seeded first, received first-round byes and won semifinal matches without losing a set.
No. 1 singles player Spencer Weinberg faces Pine Creek’s McKay Inman in the final, scheduled for 9:15 a.m.
Fruita Monument advanced two singles players and one doubles team to the finals. The Wildcats are second with 31 points. Central is tied for fifth with three points.
The Wildcats’ No. 1 duo of Ryan Hautzinger and Tanner McKenzie defeated Central’s Caleb Brown and Logan Emmert 6-2, 7-6 (7-2) in the semifinals. Both players are looking for qualify for state a second time.
“We were really struggling in the second set and needed to stay consistent,” McKenzie said.
Fruita junior Vinny Castellini advanced to the No. 2 singles final with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Zach Inman of Pine Creek.
Class 4A Regional
Montrose’s No. 2 doubles team of Brian Davidson and Doug Hallenborg are one win away from a second trip to the Class 4A state championships next week in Pueblo.
The seniors advanced to the Class 4A Region 8 finals with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Aspen’s Brian DeRosa and Kalen Gabow.
“Last year we were in the same situation and Aspen beat us to go to state,” Hallenborg said.
“We talked to the team (Wednesday) night and one of our goals was to play like seniors, like we’ve been there before,” Davidson said.
Montrose has one singles player and two doubles teams in the middle of semifinal matches.
Steamboat Springs advanced its three singles players and two doubles teams to the region final before rain stopped play for the day. The Sailors’ No. 3 and 4 doubles teams were in the middle of semifinal matches when it rained.
Aspen is second with 30 points. The Skiers have two singles players and one doubles team already in the finals with one more singles player and two doubles teams in semifinal matches.
All players in the middle of postponed matches are expected to report by 7:45 a.m. to Canyon View Park. Players in playback matches are expected to report by 8 a.m. at the park.