The proving ground

Western Slope Open will give GJ a sense of where it stands

Central’s Lael Nordstrom returns a shot Friday during his No. 2 singles first-round match with Chatfield’s Brian Ross at the Western Slope Open at Elliott Tennis Center. Nordstrom lost 6-3, 6-0 to fall into the consolation bracket. The junior won his first consolation match, defeating Steamboat Springs’ Troy DeJonge 10-6. Nordstrom lost in the consolation quarterfinals 10-4 to Aspen’s Brad Broeking.

Grand Junction High School advanced to the semifinals in four flights Friday at the
16-team Western Slope Open boys tennis tournament.

What those players do today will give Tigers coach Carol Elliott a better understanding of where her team ranks in the state.

Grand Junction this week moved up to No. 3 in the state poll, but two other teams in the top eight, No. 4 Mountain Vista and No. 8 Denver East, reached the semifinals in all seven flights of the Western Slope Open, and the Tigers will meet one school or the other in three of their semifinals. Advancement to the finals could provide a meeting with the other highly ranked team.

“We’ll see where we’re at,” Elliott said. “Teamwise, we know we can compete with these top teams. ... We feel we’re a top-10 team in the state.”

Tenth-ranked Chatfield also is in the tournament and reached the semifinals in three flights. The Tigers won both of their matches against Chatfield players Friday.

Grand Junction’s semifinalists are:

■ Daniel Ness at No. 2 singles. He won his first match 6-0, 6-0, then survived a three-set quarterfinal against Durango, prevailing 6-3, 4-6, (10-3). He faces Denver East’s Colby Jimenez in the semifinals.

■ Aaron Gossage at No. 3 singles. He won his first match 6-4, 6-2, then cruised 6-0, 6-0 in the second round. He faces Denver East’s Eli Wiener in the semifinals.

■ Max Proietti and Matt Prinster at No. 1 doubles. They made quick work of both of their opponents Friday, winning 6-1, 6-1, then 6-0, 6-1. They face Mountain Vista’s team of Vamsi Senthilvel and Austin Gruszczywski in the semifinals.

■ Matthew Ness and Brian List at No. 2 doubles. They opened with a 6-0, 6-0 win, then triumphed 6-3, 6-0 over a duo from Chatfield. They face Fruita Monument’s Taylor Scofield and James Stagg in the semifinals.

“Our four teams that are in the semis played very well,” Elliott said. “They raised their level of play to the level of the competition, which was very good. ... It’s another thing coming out the second day and doing it again.”

Elliott said her Nos. 1 and 2 doubles teams took charge in all of their matches.

“Both started strong out of the gate and didn’t give their opponents a chance to get in a groove,” she said. “They got out of the gate and went after it.”

Daniel Ness survived a tough second-round match, and Elliott said that’s a reflection of a senior who is a team leader.

“He’s a workhorse out there,” she said.

Gossage, she said, is a smart player who knows how to work the point, and that was on display Friday.

Scofield and Stagg were the only other semifinalists from School District 51 schools. They won their first match 6-0, 6-4, then claimed their quarterfinal 6-3, 6-2.


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