Tigers in control at 5A tennis regional

Grand Junction’s Jacob Lapkin returns a shot Thursday during his 6-0, 6-0 victory over Heritage’s Christian Slupe in the No. 2 singles semifinals at the Region 5 tournament at Elliott Tennis Center.

After the first day of the CHSAA Class 5A Region 5 tennis tournament, Grand Junction has all but clinched the title.

The Tigers advanced all seven positions Thursday into today’s finals, which begin at 9:15 a.m.

Grand Junction has 56 points, followed by Fruita Monument’s 26. Heritage is third with 21.

Perhaps the match of the day, however, came in the first round at No. 2 singles.

Fruita Monument’s Matt Harris, who woke up at 5:50 a.m. for his 8 a.m. match against Central’s Drake Giese, got the real wake-up call when Giese won the first game, 6-1.

“I don’t like to play in the morning much,” Harris said. “We ran before we got here around the court a few times, did some butt-kickers.”

And Harris, who said he tried to forget the first set, rallied to defeat Giese, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1.

His third set included a game he won by running back to the baseline and, as he faded back, smacked a forehand lob with top-spin that went over Giese’s head and hit the baseline.

“I was pretty nervous at the beginning,” said Harris, who placed third at last season’s regional, one place short of qualifying for state. “I was just double-faulting a lot. I just wanted to qualify for state since I didn’t last year.”

The top two places in each position qualify for state.

Harris has a chance to qualify today with a win over Grand Junction freshman Jacob Lapkin at 9:15 a.m.

Other local finals matchups include a No. 1 doubles match between Grand Junction’s Tate Hegstrom and Jacob Filutze against Fruita Monument’s Kelson Reimer and Taylor Scofield at 9:15 a.m..

Also at 9:15 a.m., at No. 4 doubles, the Tigers’ Matthew Ness and Charlie Ruckman play James Stagg and Sam Graf of Fruita.

Central senior Jesi Nordstrom is in an 8 a.m. playback match against Heritage’s Ashton Blair at No. 1 singles.

Nordstrom defeated ThunderRidge’s Jacob Appleby, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, in the first round and Fruita’s Nick Rutan, 6-3, 6-4, in a first-round playback. If Nordstrom beats Blair, hopes for a second-place playoff and a state berth remain alive, but that would require Dakota Ridge’s Adam Rivera, the player who beat Nordstrom in three sets in the semifinals, to defeat former state champ and state runner-up Spencer Weinberg of Grand Junction in the final.

Regardless of the regional outcome, Nordstrom has fashioned a strong finish to his season and career.

“His play has been night and day from five weeks ago,” Central coach David Elliott said of Nordstrom. “Just some things he’s been working on in regards to trusting himself. He’s starting to play to his potential, which is fun to watch. And fun for him.”


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