Reicks, Morgan on a roll
Top doubles team reaches semis, ready for rematch with Cherry Creek
DENVER—The Grand Junction High School tandem of Charlie Reicks and Sam Morgan are a well-tuned machine on the tennis court.
The seniors form the top doubles team for the Tigers, which should come as no surprise, given that this is their third season as partners on the tennis court.
Reicks and Morgan displayed the leadership typical of such savvy veterans Thursday, setting the pace for a Tigers team that otherwise struggled with youthful jitters during the first day of the Class 5A state tennis tournament.
Reicks and Morgan swept two matches at the Gates Tennis Center, earning a berth in today’s semifinals of the No. 1 doubles bracket. The duo will face the Cherry Creek High School tandem of Brian Maierhofer and Doug Kierstead, who handed Reicks and Morgan their only loss of the season at the Western Slope Invitational.
“It is all about breaking the pressure in doubles,” Morgan said. “We were consistently putting pressure on our opponents and were able to come out with some wins. This was the plan. This is where we wanted to be. We both know if we play our best tennis, we’re capable of pulling it out (today).”
Reicks and Morgan dispatched Rocky Mountain High School’s Alex Creech and John Behm in the opening round 6-2, 6-3. They kept the momentum rolling in the quarterfinals, posting a gritty 6-3, 7-5 win against Chatfield’s Tanner Stutz and Nick Holmes.
“They came out strong and they’re a very seasoned group,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “They have played many years together, so they know each other very well.
“They’re very athletic and they mix things up very well. They stay on each other and they never get down. They always pick each other up, which is very important in doubles.”
The Tigers’ next best chance at reaching the semifinals occurred in the No. 3 singles bracket, where senior Greg Coleman advanced out of the first round with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Kevin Lemcke of George Washington.
Coleman used his blistering serve to post a tough 7-5 edge in the first round of his quarterfinal match against Cherry Creek’s Ben Halvorson, but eventually dropped the hard-fought three-setter 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
“I’m still getting used to singles, and my endurance was off and I started cramping up,” said Coleman, who was playing doubles until midway through the season. “I needed to stay focused and think about every shot. I was getting ahead of myself, or thinking about the past shots.
“I needed to stay in the now and wasn’t able to really do it. The first set took quite a bit out of me, and the second set broke me down mentally a bit because I really wanted to close it out and I wasn’t quite able to do it.”
Grand Junction’s only other first-round victory came in the No. 2 doubles draw, as sophomores Gabe Campos and Luke Ledebur edged Loveland’s Tyler Hempstead and Adam Kinnes. Campos and Ledebur lost their quarterfinal match against Will Kuelthau and Evan Rush of Fairview.
Fruita Monument’s Antonio Pestello lost in the first round at No. 3 singles, and none of the Wildcats’ three doubles team were able to make it to the quarterfinals.
Central’s No. 1 doubles team of Matt Champlin and Kurt Faller also lost in the first round.
Many of the ousted athletes may have an opportunity to compete in playback matches today depending on the outcome of the semifinal matches.
“We got one in, but we were hoping to win a few more first-rounds,” Elliott said. “We had chances and we knew we needed to win a few first rounds in order to get some playbacks.
“Some of our kids just weren’t ready. A lot of them are younger kids, freshman kids, and sometimes this is a big shock to them. We didn’t prepare them well enough. I’m happy with our No. 1 doubles, but I wish some of our other players would have done a little better.”
Steamboat Springs finished the first day of the state tournament in Pueblo tied for seventh place with seven points.
The Sailors were represented in each bracket, but only their No. 4 doubles team of Kyle Rogers and Gabri Erspamer was able to advance to today’s semifinals, beating Jono Bentley and Ian Peterson of Colorado Academy 6-4, 6-2.
All of the Sailors’ doubles teams and No. 2 singles player Keegan Burger advanced to the quarterfinals before being eliminated.
Aspen finished with one point in their five matches. The Skiers’ win came from the No. 2 doubles team of Nic Broeking and Mike DiSimone, who eventually lost in the quarterfinals.
Montrose’s No. 4 doubles team of Ross Valdez and Jeremy Storter lost 7-5, 7-5 to Cheyenne Mountain in the first round.