Still new to tennis, Weckerly makes state

Tommy Mahre, left, and Max Weckerly go to the net to shake hands with their opponents at Friday’s regional tournament. Both are seniors on the Grand Junciton team, but Weckerly took up the sport this past summer. The pair qualified for the Class 5A state tournament at No. 2 doubles.

Max Weckerly smiled and mingled with his teammates, a satisfying couple of days and a ticket to the Class 5A state tennis tournament safely tucked away for the Grand Junction senior.

With his teammate Tommy Mahre, Weckerly qualified for state at No. 2 doubles. It will be his first and last trip to the state tournament.

Not only is this Weckerly’s first season of tennis, he only started playing about five months ago.

High school sports means many things to young student-athletes. Some are supremely talented athletes who excel at their sport. Others take on the vital secondary duties as role players, while others are just looking for that extracurricular activity to take the focus off the classroom and add some fun to their time in school.

Today, the realm of high school sports caters to those who start young and hone their skills on the fields, courts, weight rooms and other areas as they go through their four years.

Weckerly just decided he wanted to give tennis a try as a senior.

“My mom and brother both play tennis and I always wanted to play but I was always doing something else. This summer, I just needed something to do, so I thought I’d try it. And I really liked it,” Weckerly said, his eyes showing the excitement of a good decision.

“It is kind of intimidating because I’m older but I don’t have the experience that everyone else has, and I think people expect me to be better than I am, so I feel like I have to prove myself,” he said.

After placing second at regionals with Mahre, Weckerly doesn’t have much else to prove.

Cameron Weckerly is Max’s brother, and he’s a good tennis player with lots of experience. The junior won a regional title at No. 2 singles.

When Max decided he wanted to give tennis a try, Cameron was there to help and motivate.

“My brother has been really helpful,” Max said.

How about patient?

Max laughed: “He’s pretty patient but he is my brother, so he’d definitely get annoyed. He’s really good and I wasn’t.

“Playing with him was always intimidating and I was worried, but it really helped me a lot,” Max said.

Cameron smiles when asked what it was like being the young brother mentoring the older brother.

“That’s a little weird,” Cameron said with a grin. “I came out and hit with him a lot this summer and he’s really improved.”

Once Weckerly gave the sport a try, he had zero expectations.

“When I first started, I wasn’t even sure if I would make the team,” he said. “Then I started at No. 3 doubles for about the first half of the season. Then I moved up and that was really exciting.”

When he jumped into doubles, there was the stress of not wanting to be too much of a weak link.

“There’s definitely some pressure and there’s a lot I don’t know about doubles, and I don’t want to let my partner down, so I have to learn as quick as I can,” he said.

Central also had a tennis newbie that took up the sport as a freshman.

Sophomore Watts Erb was watching some friends play tennis last season at Canyon View when he was extended an invitation.

“Coach (Micky) Mantlo came up to me and asked me if I wanted to join the team,” Erb said. “They didn’t have a full team and I think he was pretty desperate to get a full team together.”

This past Friday, Erb clutched his yellow fourth-place ribbon at the Elliott Tennis Center like it was a winning lottery ticket.

Since joining the team last year, the sophomore had never won a match. That changed at regionals when he pulled off the upset, a 6-3, 6-4 win to advance to the No. 2 singles semifinals.

It was his first-ever win.

For the past two seasons, Erb has had to learn under fire by playing against more experienced players.

But he has the kind of attitude that personifies the value of high school sports.

“It was a little frustrating at times but I know most of the people I play against, and it’s just fun to come out and play with them,” he said.

Erb, who also plays basketball and lacrosse, won’t be going to state but he ended the season with a great winning memory.

“I’m happy I took up tennis, for sure,” he said with a smile.

For these tennis newcomers, it was a super season packed with memories.

Weckerly still has a little tennis remaining in his high school career as he heads to Denver next week.

“I’m really really glad I came out for tennis. I was hesitant at first but it’s turned out really well,” he said with a smile.

BOSTON — The Colorado Avalanche are heading into their home opener feeling pretty good.

Another win in Boston certainly helped.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 29 shots, Nail Yakupov scored two goals and the Colorado Avalanche continued their recent success in Boston with a 4-0 win over the Bruins on Monday.

Sven Andrighetto and J.T. Compher scored first-period goals for the Avalanche, who improved to 11-0-0-1 in their past 12 games in Boston since the most recent loss on March 30, 1998.

Colorado completed its season-opening three-game road trip at 2-1. Boston split its first two games — both at home.

“I think we’re fortunate to be 2-1,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Our best game of the road trip was certainly our third. To be 2-1 in a tough building here in Boston, against a good team to get a good solid win, this is a little bit of a sign of maturity.”

Varlamov is also off to a good start after missing the final 40 games last season following hip surgery.

“It gives you confidence and brings confidence to the team,” he said.

Tuukka Rask made 19 saves for the Bruins.

Boston coach Bruce Cassidy saw some mistakes from his young players that led to an early 2-0 hole, but he was most disappointed with the overall effort.

“The core group that we rely on — it just wasn’t a good effort,” he said. “I put myself in that category.

“We’re supposed to be ready to play at home, especially after having a couple of days off. That was the biggest disappointment to me. Things aren’t going to go your way some nights. To not have the energy to sustain it get yourself back in the game is disappointing.”

The Avalanche grabbed a 1-0 lead when Andrighetto’s shot from the slot slipped into the net off Rask’s glove 4:41 into the opening period.

Compher completed a 2-on-1 break with former Bruin Carl Soderberg by firing a wrister over Rask’s left shoulder to make it 2-0 midway into the period with a short-handed goal.

Yakupov scored when Rask came out to chase a loose puck along the boards 6:07 into the third. And Yakupov added his second goal of the game with 44 seconds left in the third.

Cassidy even changed up the lines after the Bruins’ lackluster start.

“I think it took us seven minutes to get our first shot on net,” Boston forward Ryan Spooner said. “I think he kind of thought the lines weren’t working so he just switched them up.”


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