The present & the future
Fleming teams with youngster Aubert to win top doubles title at Western Slope Open
About five years ago, there was a pre-high school youngster who was already showing special potential.
During Wednesday’s Western Slope Open, that youngster was partnered with another player who is already playing beyond her years.
Sarah Fleming, who will be headed into her senior year at Fruita Monument, teamed up with Emma Aubert to win the girls 16-18 year-old Australian doubles division title — the highest junior level.
Aubert, who will be a seventh grader this fall, also picked up two second-place medals at the Elliott Tennis Center.
“It was a lot of fun,” the soft-spoken Aubert said.
Aubert was second in the 16-18 year-old Australian singles division and partnered with Abby Deeths to place second in the 12-14 year-old doubles division.
Alea and Anya Ritchie held on for a 3-6, 6-4, 10-6 win to claim the 12-14 crown.
Even though she played mostly with much older girls in the tournament, Aubert said she enjoys that high level of competition.
“I play with them a lot, in practice too, and it’s really fun to play with them in matches,” she said.
With no women’s singles open division, Fleming only competed in the doubles with Aubert.
As a three-time Class 5A state qualifier, Fleming has proven herself to a great Western Slope player. But she has scaled back a little this summer.
“It’s nice to take a little bit of a break and refresh a little bit,” she said. “Doubles is really fun, I really enjoy it and playing with Emma was a blast.”
As the accomplished singles player she is, Fleming said it’s fun to play doubles sometimes.
“I’m still out there to win, it’s just a different style of tennis,” she said.
In the round-robin format for their doubles tournament, Fleming and Aubert overwhelmed the field.
They won their first two matches 6-0, 6-0 and 6-2, 7-5, then cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 win on Wednesday over Kamryn Peltier and Isabel Manzanares, who finished second.
Aubert said she sometimes practices with her older brother Luke, who plays on the Grand Junction High School tennis team.
“I think if we played together in tournaments together, we’d kill each other,” she said, smiling. “But it’s helped me come a long ways,”
Emma Aubert said the more experienced Fleming will offer advice at times, but not that much.
“When I need it and she can tell I need a tip, she gives it to me,” she said
It wasn’t that long ago when local tennis enthusiasts were talking about Fleming, the youngster who was impressive as a pre-high school player. Now, Fleming is talking about Aubert and her impressive game.
“She’s a really solid player, it’s been great seeing her get better over the years, and she does remind me a lot of myself but I think she’s way better than I ever was at her age,” Fleming said. “I’m excited to see how she does in high school and where she goes with tennis.”
Weckerly/Hegstrom win boys title
The boys 16-18 year-old Australian doubles final was a heated battle with all four players showing their competitive spirit.
The match was punctuated with frustrated screams and groans, and jubilant yelps as the back-and-forth match went into a third-set tiebreaker.
Aided by three double faults in the tiebreaker, Cameron Weckerly and Cal Hegstrom pulled out the victory over Brandon Lovato and Jonathan Blair, 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.
“It was hot and we kinda wanted it to be over with. After a good first set, they won the second and we knew we had to start getting into their heads,” Hegstrom said with a grin.
It was a big tournament for Hegstrom, who, for the second straight year, won both singles and doubles titles.
“Yeah, that’s kinda cool,” he said.
For Weckerly, it was a frustrating tournament until the doubles win.
“I haven’t been doing very good in this tournament and I needed to win at least one thing, and Cal and I are a pretty good doubles team,” he said.
After Lovato and Blair rallied to win the second set, Weckerly and Hegstrom regrouped.
“Cal and I talked strategy and made sure we weren’t getting too angry with ourselves,” Weckerly said.
The duo said winning at the Western Slope Open will help build confidence when the high school season starts in about a month. Weckerly was at No. 1 singles and Hegstrom at No. 2 singles for Grand Junction last year.
“It makes me confident and I know I can win, and hopefully I can win some matches at state,” Weckerly said.
Hegstrom agreed: “It motivates me to have a better season this year.”