Provenza beats former coach to claim singles title
Nick Provenza has a men’s open singles tennis title to go with all his junior singles titles.
Provenza returned to Grand Junction for the Taco Bell Western Slope Open for the first time in two years and won the men’s open singles title Sunday at the Elliott Tennis Center on the campus of Colorado Mesa University.
“It means a lot,” Provenza said. “This was probably my first tennis tournament when I was 8 or 9 years old, playing Taco Bell. I’m lucky enough to play well and have good results out here.”
The 25-year-old Grand Junction native and Mesa State graduate, who begins a teaching tennis career with the Peter Burwash International program next week, defeated his former college coach Dan MacDonald 6-3, 6-3.
“Anytime I step on the tennis court, I want to win,” Provenza said. “Playing Dan, we know each other’s game well enough it could go either way. I was lucky enough to play well today and pull it off.”
Provenza and MacDonald have played numerous matches against each other through the years, but this was Provenza’s first tournament victory over MacDonald to both player’s recollection.
“He served too good,” MacDonald said. “I don’t think I had one break point chance. The last game he was serving at 4-3, I thought I had a chance.
“He deserves to win. He’s a hard worker and a great kid. He outplayed me in every aspect of the game.”
Provenza broke MacDonald’s first service game and kept it to win the first set.
Provenza broke MacDonald’s second service game of the second set and closed the match with another break.
“I could not tell where he was going,” MacDonald said of Provenza’s serve. “I think there was one game I got to deuce and had a look at a second serve. I took a rip, it hit the tape and fell back on my side.”
MacDonald, 48, wasn’t so much disappointed he didn’t defend his men’s open singles title, as he was happy for Provenza, who provided many memories during his career at then-Mesa State College from 2006 to 2010.
The Mavericks reached the NCAA Division II national championships during Provenza’s college career. Provenza and Jordan Chomko qualified for the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division II doubles championships and were ranked 23rd in the nation.
Provenza leaves later this week for a three weeks of training in Georgia before he starts teaching tennis in the Burwash program.
“I still don’t think it’s really hit me yet because it will be so different than anything I’ve ever done,” Provenza said. “I’ll get to experience new cultures. It’s a big world out there I’d like to see and I want to get started now.
“I’m sure it will be a few years before I come back and play Taco Bell with the new job. It is nice to go out with a win.”
Aimee Basinski, 18, defended her women’s open singles title thanks, in part, to a brief rainstorm.
The Central High School graduate rallied to defeat Sandy Miller 4-6, 6-4, (10-8) in Miller’s first Western Slope Open single tournament in 11 years.
Miller, 50, won the first set when it rained. The match was delayed an hour and a half.
When the match resumed, Basinski showed up with a fresh attitude.
“(The rain delay) gave me time to go and get my mind off tennis,” Basinski said. “I was getting way too down on myself. I was negative. I haven’t been used to playing matches. I had difficulty getting back in it because I’m a hot-headed person.
“I came back with a blank slate and tried to be aggressive.”
Basinski broke Miller’s first two service games to take a 4-1 lead and had a chance to go up 5-1, but Miller persevered through the long deuce game then held serve and broke Basinski again to tie the set 4-4.
Basinski responded before it was too late, breaking Miller’s serve again and held her serve to win 6-4 and force a third-set, 10-point tiebreaker.
“It could’ve gone either way,” Miller said. “I think she probably played better. I hung in as best as I could and tried a lot of tricks, drop shots and lobs, to throw off her game. That worked up to a point. I needed to be a little steadier. I think we were both a little nervous. We both had opportunities.
“I wanted to win, but I couldn’t be disappointed losing to that great of a player. I tried to keep her out of her comfort zone.”
Basinski took command early in the tiebreak with a 4-1 lead, but Miller won six of the next seven points for a 7-5 lead. On the next point, Basinski hit an approach shot to the corner and Miller played the ball in the air near the baseline and hit it in the net. Basinski won the next four points to win the match.
“It feels really good,” Basinski said. “I think this year was a little tougher than last year. I think there were better players and I haven’t played that much.”
Basinski leaves for college in less than two weeks. She’s going to play at Winona State (Minn.) University.