Richard Johnson tops Spencer Weinberg to win men’s open singles title
Richard Johnson saw a potential opportunity to play the most recent Grand Valley high school state tennis champion and couldn’t pass it up.
The two-time Fruita Monument Class 5A No. 1 singles state champion (2003-2004), who is going to law school at the University of Colorado, got the matchup in the Taco Bell Western Slope Open men’s open singles championship Sunday morning at the Elliott Tennis Center.
Johnson, who doesn’t play as much since making a run at a professional tennis career, showed he can still play at a high level. The 25-year-old defeated Grand Junction High School No. 1 singles state champion and defending Western Slope Open champion Spencer Weinberg 6-0, 6-1 for the title. It was Johnson’s second Western Slope Open men’s open singles title. He won in 2007.
“My game is aggressive,” Johnson said. “I look to finish a point in two shots. I thought that would be a bad matchup against him. His strengths are counterpunching against that. If I come to the net, it’s got to be really good. It’s hard to pick off returns because he’s quick.”
Weinberg, who became the youngest player to win the Western Slope Open men’s open singles last year, figured he’d have to take more chances and go for some winners to beat Johnson.
Weinberg won his only game of the match on his first service game of the second set.
“For some reason, I felt like I had to play a different game style than I’m used to, but I really had to hang in there and play my own game,” Weinberg said. “I played more aggressive, but he brought it to me.
“We talked after the match and he said he tried to play more like me and play more defensive. He tried to bring me in a bit, but his serve was too big for me. It was men among boys out there.”
Johnson, though, was complimentary of Weinberg, who will be a junior at Grand Junction High this fall.
“He’s a good athlete,” Johnson said. “There are opportunities in front of him. I think he should shoot for the moon. He could play good Division I college tennis.
“I think he should play a Futures Tour here or there and some nationals,” Johnson said.
“This is a good boost for me for the future,” Weinberg said. “I’ve never seen players like that, recently at least.
“We want to hit in the future and work on my returns and taking the ball on the rise. I learned a lot from that match. I grew up watching him. It’s nice playing him and seeing what it’s like at the next level.”
Weinberg teamed up with longtime friend Cooper Bridge to win the men’s open doubles title.
They defeated Harold Carrizo and Tim Wright 6-1, 6-2 in the final Sunday.
It was the first time the 16-year-olds played in a tournament together since 2008. They grew up together and were nationally ranked in doubles in the 12-under age group.
“We used to play every tournament,” Weinberg said. “The bond is still there. We feed off each other. It hasn’t changed and it will never change. It would be awesome to play college together.”
Weinberg visits Bridge each summer in Irvine, Calif., but this time Weinberg brought Bridge back to Junction.
“We’ve stayed friends and great competitors,” Bridge said. “It was a lot of fun to come back to Junction and seeing everybody and all the familiar faces. It was a great experience.”