Lowry Bishop Invite a great chance for local players to see good competition
It’s always good to play top-flight competition.
For the three local prep boys tennis teams, the Lowry Bishop Invitational is the annual start of the season.
The tournament, hosted by Fruita Monument, welcomes a number of high-caliber teams from the mountains and Front Range for two days, and that means an early testing ground for players.
Every year, there can be some shifting of singles players and doubles teams as the season begins.
For the Wildcats and Tigers, there was a shift at the top with new No. 1 singles players taking over.
After its No. 1 singles player graduated, the Fruita Monument competition was wide open to fill the spot.
Daniel Lastine won the competition, making the jump from No. 1 doubles to No. 1 singles.
“I was really hoping to move up, but I wasn’t expecting to be No. 1. It’s nice, and so far I feel like I’m doing OK,” he said.
The competition is always fierce at No. 1 singles, and Lastine dropped two of his matches in the dual format tournament at Canyon View Park.
The Fruita junior held his own against both opponents, matching ground strokes and showing his quickness in the losses.
Playing Front Range competition early is always different.
“It’s always good to see where everyone is at, and see the competition,” Lastine said. “A lot of these kids we’ll see again at state or regionals”
Against a talented Fossil Ridge squad, Fruita senior Jackson Cesark picked up the Wildcats’ only win, at No. 3 singles.
Lastine, Cesark, Brandon Lovato at No. 2 singles, and the team of Jon Bishop and Garrett Morse at No. 1 doubles all had wins against Smoky Hill.
The Tigers, who played all their matches at Elliott Tennis Center, return all three of its singles players from last year with all three now juniors.
After an intense tryout session, there was a flip at No. 1 and 2.
Cal Hegstrom beat Cameron Weckerly in the tryout and the follow-up challenge to earn the No. 1 position.
“I improved a little and got a little bit bigger than last year,” Hegstrom said with a smile.
He also likes playing different competition.
“Overall I think it’s better than playing people I’ve already played,” he said. “It was nice to play people that gives us a taste of what to expect in the season.”
As far as the battle for the team’s No. 1 spot, Hegstrom said it was a tough competition with Weckerly
“We were both playing well, and we talked it about it afterwards, and we’re still friends,” Hegstrom said with a laugh.
Hegstrom won two matches and lost a tough one against Fossil Ridge, dropping the third-set tiebreaker 10-8.
“It’s definitely a lot different than (No.) 2 singles, and it gives me some good confidence,” he said.
Weckerly also won two matches and lost a third-set tiebreaker against Fossil Ridge.
Luke Aubert is back at No. 3 singles for the Tigers. He won his match against Fossil Ridge as did the Tigers’ No. 3 doubles team of Joseph Hirschbuhl and Max Weckerly.
Central is fielding a full team this year and that includes Brandon Holman at No. 1 singles for the second straight year.
“We have a bunch of new guys on the team, so it’s a lot of fun,” the senior said.
After starting as a junior varsity player as a freshman, then moving to No. 2 singles his sophomore year, Holman said he’s improved every year.
“It’s really cool to see where you were as a freshman, and getting better every year,” he said.
For Lastine, he’s focused on improvement, especially after just missing a trip to state when his doubles team finished third at regionals.
“I’d really like to get to state this year,” he said. “It was a big motivator for me, coming up just short, and I’ve put in a lot of work to try and get it done.”
The tournament continues today with more dual matches.