GJ's Call, Central's Gabardi still adjusting to playing singles
Making the jump from being a doubles tennis player to a singles player has been scary enough for Grand Junction High School senior Bree Call this season.
That, of course, was before she started winning at No. 3 singles for the Tigers.
“Uh, I did not mean for that to happen. Seriously,” Call said Friday with a laugh and a surprised look on her face. “I fully expected that I’d lose the first two matches and be playing in the C bracket by now.”
Then she paused and added: “I’m still shocked.”
Call advanced to the semifinal round of the Western Slope Open at Elliott Tennis Center with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Victoria Gabardi of Central. Call will face Mountain Vista’s Alex Begler at 8 a.m. today.
Like Call, Gabardi is a senior who is playing her first season as a singles player.
Despite her lack of singles experience, Call, who won her first-round match against Pueblo West’s Chelsey Colby 6-0, 6-3, is feeling a little more confident now.
“We had two other (duals earlier in the season) against Steamboat Springs and Evergreen, and I lost both in three sets back-to-back,” Call said. “I was so frustrated. I was like, ‘Dangit! I’m never gonna win a singles match!’
“Then, after my first match this morning, I was like, ‘Hey. I’m kinda doing good now.’ “
Call, who is the only Grand Junction player with a chance to make the finals, joins three Fruita Monument players in the semifinals: Sarah Fleming at No. 1 singles, Alexa Jo Willms at No. 3 singles, and Mia Maynard and Amber Skillicorn at No. 1 doubles.
Mountain Vista is up big in the team standings with 168 points after the first day. Poudre is in second with 141, with Heritage (138), Chatfield and Fruita Monument (135) following.
Call teamed up with Elise Larsen on the Tigers’ No. 3 doubles team last year and the duo almost made the state tournament with a third-place regional-tournament finish. Gabardi teamed with Brittany Updike at No. 2 doubles, finishing fourth the last year’s regional.
Neither, however, had played a high school singles match prior to this season, which resulted in a massive adjustment on the court.
“It’s definitely different at the net because if you go up there, there’s no one behind you to back you up,” Gabardi said. “It’s all you there.”
That also plays into the mental aspect, Call said, since a partner isn’t there to offer support or coaching tips after every point.
“You have to figure out for yourself how to fix your own strategy instead of working with someone to do it,” Gabardi said. “You don’t have a partner telling you to try a different shot or a different placement. You have to figure that out for yourself.”
Willms, who defeated Palmer Ridge’s Paiton Riggle 6-0, 6-2 in the second round at No. 3 singles, plays Lauren Thomas of Heritage for a spot in the tournament title match. Semifinals begin at 8 a.m., with singles and doubles finals beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Willms and Call are each one win away from facing each other for the No. 3 singles tournament title.
Fleming, who won a regional championship at No. 1 singles last season and is a two-time state qualifier, used a 6-1, 6-4 victory against Durango freshman Mavis Edwards to advance past the second round. She’ll face Mountain Vista’s Casey Zhong, who also used a pair of straight-set victories to advance to this morning’s semifinals.
Maynard, who last season reached the state tournament at No. 2 doubles playing with Katie Wood, teamed with Skillicorn to beat Poudre’s Abbott Hoeven and Rebecca Kirby 6-2, 6-3 to reach the semifinals.