Tie goes to ...

Three teams deadlocked for SWL tennis crown

Fruita Monument High School’s Jacque Soychak chases down a ball in her No. 2 singles match against Grand Junction’s Morgen Mantlo on Tuesday afternoon at Canyon View Park. Soychak won 6-2, 6-3 and Fruita won the dual 4-3.

There is no doubt in the coaches’ minds who won the Southwestern League girls tennis championship.

Central Athletic Director Randy Powell confirmed Central, Fruita Monument and Grand Junction finished in a three-way tie, but Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis believes the Wildcats are champions after defeating Grand Junction 4-3 on Tuesday afternoon at Canyon View Park.

“We’re printing T-shirts (that acknowledges Fruita as SWL champs),” Davis said.

Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott told Davis congratulations and agreed the Wildcats should be league champions.

Powell went through the tiebreaker procedure, but nothing broke the tie.

District Athletic Director Paul Cain said Tuesday night that no champion will be declared. The athletic directors will meet to discuss how to determine the champion, Cain said, adding that this is the first time in 13 years a tie could not be broken in girls tennis.

The Wildcats, Tigers and Warriors all went 1-1 against each other and all three beat Durango and Montrose twice. One of the two duals is designated SWL competition, and in league play, Fruita beat Grand Junction, Grand Junction beat Central and Central beat Fruita. In the nonleague duals, the results were reversed, but nonleague matches are not part of the tiebreaking format, Cain said.

Davis is focused more on regionals next week than the league title.

“I can’t emphasize regionals next week enough,” Davis said. “We’re happy right now, but we’re going to focus on next week. Winning league is great, but we want to play well next week.”

Fruita senior Jacque Soychak clinched the victory with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Morgen Mantlo at No. 2 singles with one match left on the courts.

“I’m happy I clinched that out for us,” Soychak said. “I think our team is great. We have a lot of talent on our team and most of us are seniors. This is a great win for the seniors.”

Soychak controlled play from the start, breaking Mantlo early in the first set.

“Junction is known for their slice and short balls to get you in,” Soychak said. “I was practicing with my dad a lot, a lot of slice and return. I had to remember to use my topspin and move her around.”

Mantlo made some adjustments and attempted to put more pressure on Soychak to hit winners, and Soychak delivered.

“I was really curious to see how that would go,” Davis said of Soychak’s match. “Her mental game is what makes the difference in the close matches she keeps winning.”

“Jacque can play an all-court game. If somebody tries to attack her like that, she can play a great counter-punch game. Her versatility helps her out.”

Fruita Monument also won at No. 2, 3 and 4 doubles.

Lindsay Dempsey and Sam Brewington defeated Mariah Prinster and Jessi Smith 6-4, 6-3 at No. 2 doubles. Tayvia Voytilla and Katie Vidmar won 6-2, 6-4 at No. 3 and Amy Espinoza and Alyssa Bohrer won 6-3, 6-3 at No. 4.

Grand Junction’s Carolena Campos gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with a 6-0, 6-1 victory at No. 1 singles over Bronte Hayward. Grand Junction’s Sarah Megan Erb followed with a 6-0, 6-2 victory at No. 3 singles. Erb avenged a loss to Shannon Hautzinger earlier this season.

“I’ve been improving in practice working up to this match,” Erb said. “She earned it last match, I just brought my game today. I had to play aggressive in tight situations and not let up.”


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