Shuffle doesn’t stop GJ tennis team

Gartner's hand injury gives Coleman chance to play singles

Heading into the season, the Grand Junction High School tennis team was set up for success in the singles position.

With freshman Spencer Weinberg taking over at No. 1 singles, that allowed the top two players from last year, Parker Hegstrom and Owen Gartner to battle for the final two spots.

Hegstrom settled in at No. 2 singles, which pushed last year’s No. 1 singles player, Owen Gartner, to No. 3 singles.

No one was more excited about that move than Gartner.

“This is really good for me. I’m happy at 3 singles,” Gartner said during the Western Slope Invitational in early September. “I feel at 3, I have a real shot at it.”

At the time, Gartner was dealing with a freak injury to a finger on his left hand. A few days earlier at practice, Gartner was attempting to catch a serve from No. 1 doubles player Charlie Reicks. The ball struck his hand just right, causing the tendon to pull away from the bone.

Gartner attempted to play with the injury, but had to make adjustments to his game that he wasn’t comfortable doing. Knowing what was best for his future, Gartner bagged his senior season, and had surgery to repair the injury.

“It’s awful,” Gartner said. “It’s tough not being able to finish out my senior year how I thought I would be able to. Mine got taken away, and it’s been hard watching.”

While being on the sidelines isn’t Gartner’s first choice, he said he’s more than willing to be the Tigers’ biggest supporter. Gartner will be cheering and supporting his team today and Friday in the regional tournament at the Elliott Tennis Center, as well as next week at the state tournament at Gates Tennis Center in Denver.

“They are my teammates, so I will still cheer and offer advice,” Gartner said. “That’s really important to me, and I still feel like part of the team.”

Taking Gartner’s place at No. 3 singles is senior Greg Coleman.

Coleman moved up from No. 2 doubles and has posted a 3-3 record in singles.

Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said Coleman was challenging for one of the singles spots before the season, and was the best candidate to move into singles.

“Greg really wanted to play singles,” Elliott said. “He’s stepped in with a positive attitude, and really believes he will do some good things for us.”

After two years of playing doubles for the Tigers, Coleman’s been put through a crash course in singles the past few weeks. Coleman said one of the biggest adjustments has been patience within the point.

“In singles you have to set up your point a little bit more,” Coleman said. “That can take more endurance because each point takes longer.”

Coleman has been coming along, and hopes to be able to make it through the regional and onto state. To do that, he might have to avenge losses to Central’s James D’Annible and Fruita Monument’s Antonio Pestello.

“He’s going to have to do some mental work to get prepared for the regional because he’s lost to a couple of those kids,” Elliott said. “But he has the confidence, and we are hoping to bring him along.”

Seven other teams are in the regional, with two spots in each position advancing to state.

Central, Fruita Monument, Durango, Columbine, Chapparal, Dakota Ridge and Mountain Vista round out the regional field.


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