GJ's Mantlo one win away from advancing to state tourney as singles player
Morgen Mantlo played singles all summer to prepare for this moment.
The Grand Junction High School senior defeated Central’s Abby Bridgett 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 at No. 2 singles on Thursday afternoon in the Class 5A regional girls tennis tournament to reach the finals. She is one victory away from qualifying for the state tournament next week for the first time in singles.
“I try not to think that way yet,” Mantlo said. “There is still another day and anything can happen.”
After going to state last year at No. 1 doubles, Mantlo started playing more singles matches preparing for an opportunity to play by herself this spring.
“It’s definitely different,” Mantlo said. “Everybody talks about the adjustment from playing with somebody to playing alone and it’s definitely there. (Playing in the summer) helped a lot. I was more confident hitting more spin (on groundstrokes).”
Mantlo had to defeat Bridgett for a third time this season to advance to the regional final.
“She played stronger today,” Mantlo said. “It’s definitely different. It’s a tournament. Everyone’s had so much time to prepare. Everyone brings their top game here.”
Mantlo plays Mountain Range’s Ashley Zaeske in the final at 9:15 a.m. today.
Grand Junction No. 1 singles player Carolena Campos is also in the regional final after a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Littleton’s Junai Testa. Campos is hoping to qualify for state this year after missing it last year.
“It’s exciting to be so close,” Campos said. “I haven’t qualified yet, but I have a chance. I’m still in it. The whole team has worked hard. This is where we come out with all we learned the past few weeks.”
Central’s Hannah Keeling is looking to qualify for state for the first time in her four years.
“It’s really cool to have a good season and (possibly) extend it further,” Keeling said.
She is playing for the No. 3 singles regional title today after defeating Fruita Monument’s Shannon Hautzinger 6-2, 7-5. It was their fourth meeting this season.
“It’s great, I love playing Shannon,” Keeling said. “Every time I play her, she comes back stronger.”
Keeling led Hautzinger 4-1 in the second set, but Hautzinger came back to win four consecutive games for a 5-4 lead. However, Keeling held her serve, broke Hautzinger’s serve, then served out the match.
“I freaked out,” Keeling said. “I was down 4-5. I waited a little too late to come back.
“Serving is my favorite part of the game. I enjoy the pressure. I had to rely on my second serve, but good thing those are pretty solid.”
Also playing for a regional title today are Grand Junction’s No. 2 doubles team of Mariah Prinster and Jessi Smith and Fruita Monument’s Tayvia Voytilla and Katie Vidmar (No. 3 doubles) and Amy Espinoza and Alyssa Bohrer (No. 4 doubles).
Playing for third place and a possible playback match are the Grand Junction No. 1 doubles team of Jordan Early and MaKenna Brooks, Central’s Bridgett and the Warriors’ No. 1 doubles team of Ellie Driscoll and Leandra Mediano and the Wildcats’ Bronte Hayward at No. 1 singles.