Tennis teams enjoy success at state tourney
It’s hard to imagine how many ground strokes and serves a high school tennis player has to execute to win a state championship.
The past weekend at the Class 5A state tournament at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver, 18 players from Grand Junction and Fruita Monument High School tried to find out.
For some, the tournament was short and not very sweet. There were five positions that went one and done at the tournament, including No. 1 singles players Charlotte Mooney of Grand Junction and Lindsey Henke of Fruita Monument. Both put up good battles, with Mooney losing 6-1, 6-1 to Cherokee Trail’s Jacqueline Palmucci, who finished third. Henke lost 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 to Arapahoe’s Sarah Ray.
“It took me a while to figure her out, and I thought I played really good the second set. But I just couldn’t finish it the third set,” Henke said. “I’d never been to state before, and I wish I could have played different.”
On the other side was Grand Junction’s No. 3 doubles team of Alex Proietti and Emmie Madison, who upended Cherry Creek’s Caroline and Alexa Warly for the state championship.
The Cherry Creek sisters are two-thirds of a set of triplet sophomores whose other sister, Brittany, played No. 2 singles for the Bruins. In Saturday’s championship match, it was Proietti and Madison who looked related, as they flowed seamlessly on the court and frustrated the sisters on their way to a 6-2, 6-1 victory.
“All it takes is a little bit of momentum,” Madison said. “Once we got it, we just rolled from there.”
Even with the pressure of a championship match, Madison said she wasn’t feeling a lot of nerves leading up to the contest.
“I honestly wasn’t that nervous,” Madison said. “We had been preparing for this all season, both mentally and physically, so I knew what I had to do and I was ready to get onto the court and play.”
Madison and Proietti were the first Grand Junction players to win a championship since 2007, when Alyssa Behrens and Katie Aust won it, also at No. 3 doubles.
Fruita Monument’s state tournament was over Friday, but it was still considered a success after the Wildcats finished with two team points. It was the first time Fruita had registered team points since 2006.
“We were able to come over here and find out we can compete,” Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis said. “It’s tough to lose, but you have to look back at the season with perspective because these girls have won a lot of matches.”
Grand Junction improved on a 10th-place finish in 2008 by finishing fourth with 33 points.
To Grand Junction No. 2 singles player Jenny Jessup, the Tigers’ final result was because of a team unity that showed throughout the tournament.
“I think that was a huge part of this year’s team is we bonded so well,” Jessup said. “We had so much fun, which makes you play better tennis.”
The Tigers received one final surprise at the award ceremony, ending up with the sportsmanship award.
The accolade is special because it’s voted on by fellow coaches and competitors.
“I was surprised because there were so many great teams there,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said.
“But it’s a great representation of our community, the parents and the girls themselves.”