Returnees having a blast at Taco Bell tourney

Cynthia Bulgier returns a shot Saturday during her 6-7, 6-4, (10-4) victory over Eileen List in the 3.0 singles final at the Taco Bell Western Slope Open.

Elise Powell (Beckstead) had her first baby six weeks ago and is about to start a new chapter in her life, but before that happens, she is having a week like old times.

The 22-year-old Grand Junction native returned home to play in the Taco Bell Western Slope Open and did better than she expected.

Powell defeated Carrie Thornton of Grand Junction 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday morning to win the women’s 3.5 singles title at the Elliott Tennis Center.

“It was fun,” Powell said. “I wasn’t sure how I’d play after having (a baby girl), but it was really fun getting back on the court and exercise. It came back pretty easily. Every round I got back into a groove. I had some great opponents to play against. I had to be really consistent.”

Powell grew up playing tennis and played several Taco Bell Western Slope Open tournaments before graduating from Central High School in 2009. She went to Brigham Young University, where she met her husband, Sam Powell. They both graduated from BYU in the spring and are moving to Denver next week for Sam’s job.

Elise played tennis until four months ago, then gave birth to her daughter, Clara. She returned to the tennis courts last week.

Sam Powell, who is from Tucson, Ariz., is playing for the men’s 4.0 singles title in his first Western Slope Open.

Cynthia Bulgier, 41, of Grand Junction won the women’s 3.0 singles title for the third time in five years, beating Eileen List 6-7, 6-4, (10-4) in the final.

“I didn’t play very good,” Bulgier said. “It was rough. I was missing all my first serves. I wasn’t focused today, but I did in the end.”

The men’s and women’s open singles finals are set.

Colorado Mesa University tennis coach Dan MacDonald will try to defend his men’s open singles title after defeating five-time open champion Jerry Lockwood 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals Saturday. MacDonald defeated Lockwood for the men’s open singles title last year.

“Jerry brings out the best in me,” MacDonald said. “I struggled (Friday). My serve percentage was down. I knew I had to serve better to beat Jerry. It seemed like every time he had a break point against me, I came up with a big serve.”

MacDonald, 48, plays one of his former players, Nick Provenza, 25, in the final at 9:30 a.m. today at the Elliott Tennis Center.

Provenza defeated current CMU player Spencer Weinberg 6-4, 6-3 in the other semi. Weinberg defeated Provenza for the men’s open singles title in 2009.

“I wanted to have fun and stay competitive,” Provenza said. “I didn’t expect to be in the final, especially with Spencer on the same side of the bracket. I’m happy to win.”

Provenza has lived in Overland Park, Kan., the past two years after graduating from then-Mesa State College, where he taught tennis at an athletic club. He came back to visit this month before starting a new job with Peter Burwash International Tennis.

“We’ve played 1,000 times,” said Provenza of the finals matchup with MacDonald. “It’s always competitive. I have a lot of respect for Dan.”

Central graduate Aimee Basinski is back in the women’s open singles final after her 6-4, 6-4 victory over 13-year-old Sarah Fleming of Grand Junction.

“I played her before, but she’s gotten a lot better,” Basinski said of Fleming. “She’s more consistent. She’s going to be the best in the valley.”

Basinski plays 50-year-old Sandy (Honath) Miller of Delta in the final at 8 a.m. today. Miller, playing at Taco Bell for the first time in 11 years, defeated Ellen (Woomer) Haebe 6-4, 7-5 in the other semifinal.


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