Tigers’ No. 2 doubles team clinches state berth
Grand Junction High School tennis players Liz Heaps and Samantha Weinberg have shifted their game into high gear.
The Tigers’ No. 2 doubles team rolled on the final day of the Class 5A Region 1 tennis tournament, defeating Fruita Monument’s Grace Gaglione and Katie McGovern 6-2, 6-0 at the Elliott Tennis Center at Mesa State College.
The win clinches a berth in next weekend’s state tournament at the Gates Tennis Center in Denver. Heaps, a senior, and Weinberg, a junior, are first-year partners, and have yet to lose a match.
“We have been preparing for state the whole season, and I think we are ready,” Heaps said.
“We aren’t going to underestimate anyone, and we are playing to win.”
After a close first set with the Wildcats, the Tigers controlled the second set with aggressive net play.
“A lot of times we have a strong first set, then slow down in the second,” Heaps said.
“(Friday), we kept it going, and didn’t give them anything.”
Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said the two have come a long way as a team, and she expects big things at state from Heaps and Weinberg.
“They have become a great team,” Elliott said. “They worked together all season, and had their ups and downs, but are doing a great job complementing each other.”
The Tigers’ No. 2 doubles team was part of six regional titles for the Tigers, who also won the team championship with 81 points and qualified their entire team for state.
Fruita Monument finished second with 53 points.
“It was a good day Thursday, and we finished it today,” Tigers No. 2 singles player Jenny Jessup said.
Jessup followed her two wins Thursday by defeating Mountain Vista’s Megan Hyatt 6-2, 6-1 for the regional title.
“Today had a lot to do with consistency,” Jessup said. “We both could get it in, but it was a matter of setting up the point, having patience and realizing when to put it away.”
One of the larger upsets of the day occurred at No. 3 singles, where Grand Junction’s Kirsten Schulte defeated Fruita Monument’s Janine Kirtland 6-2, 6-4 after losing twice to Kirtland during the regular season.
“I was happy to play her again to prove that I could beat her,” Schulte said. “I’m so excited, it brings tears to my eyes.”
Other Tiger champions were the No. 1 doubles team of Maddie Hayduk and Alyssa Behrens, who defeated Mountain Vista’s Laura Peters and Kelsey Dexter 6-0, 6-3.
The Tigers’ No. 3 doubles team of Alex Proietti and Emmie Madison downed Fruita’s Lauren Bleil and Channing Hayward 6-0, 6-0.
At No. 4 doubles, Kylie Pond and Madison Gurley defeated Columbine’s Jen Peterson and Molly Geoghegan 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
“State is awesome because you get to see good teams from all over,” Behrens said. “It’s where you put your best foot forward, and I think we all can go far in state.”
The Tigers’ only loss Friday came at No. 1 singles, where Fruita Monument’ Lindsey Henke defeated Charlotte Mooney 6-2, 6-0. Henke won by putting consistent pressure on Mooney.
“I thought I played really consistent, and tried to get to everything back,” Henke said. “It was nice beating Charlotte, she’s a good player, but I’m glad I got first.”
Henke claimed one of five qualifying spots for the Wildcats.
Gaglione and McGovern claimed the second qualifier spot at No. 2 doubles and Kirtland won her playback at No. 3 singles against Mountain Vista’s Brooke Murphy, 6-2, 6-3.
Bleil and Hayward (No. 3 doubles) and Amanda Stites and Taylor Blake (No. 4 doubles) both won playbacks in straight sets over teams from Columbine.