Weinberg loses to Swiggart in tourney quarters

After losing in the quarterfinals of the Western Slope Invitational on Friday, Grand Junction’s Spencer Weinberg praised his opponent. “He played lights-out. He did everything right,” Weinberg said after Jimmy Swiggart’s 6-2, 6-2 victory at the Elliott Tennis Center.

Spencer Weinberg knew he’d be tested this weekend in the Western Slope Invitational.

He was.

For the first time since winning the Class 5A No. 1 singles state title last season, Weinberg lost a high school match.

Steamboat Springs’ Jamey Swiggart defeated Weinberg 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the tournament Friday at the Elliott Tennis Center at Colorado Mesa University.

Grand Junction No. 2 singles player Luke Ledebur and all four doubles teams reached the semifinals. The fourth-ranked Tigers are in second place with 149 points through the first round of consolation matches.

No. 3 Fairview advanced all three singles players and four doubles teams to the semifinals to lead the team standings with 168 points.

Chatfield is third with 147, Air Academy is fourth with 138 and Steamboat Springs, ranked fourth in Class 4A, is fifth with 132. Fruita Monument is 10th with 57 points, Montrose is 12th with 36 and Central is tied for 13th with 27.

The semifinals are at 8 a.m. today at Elliott Tennis Center with the finals scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

Swiggart pulled off the victory over Weinberg with an increasingly rare serve-and-volley game.

“That’s the best I’ve ever played,” Swiggart said. “Spencer and I are pretty good friends. I knew I had to bring my A game. He’s a really consistent player. I knew I had to hit my shots and get up to the net when I had a chance.

“I knew if I stayed back, he would beat me in a rally.”

Swiggart (5-0) learned the serve-and-volley game from his father, Jim Swiggart, the head teaching pro at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

“I was trying to keep the ball deep,” Weinberg said. “I knew he was a powerhouse just from watching him. I tried to get him off his game a bit and be a counter-puncher. That wasn’t working, so I tried to get up to the net and mix things up. He played lights-out.

“He did everything right. He has the potential to win it all (in Class 4A).”

The win was more gratifying for Swiggart, who missed last season with a stress fracture in his lower back.

Swiggart said the injury occurred two years ago in the Western Slope Invitational, but he didn’t realize it at the time. It bothered him last year and saw a doctor, who diagnosed him with a pars fracture in the posterior portion of the spinal column. It didn’t require surgery, but he had to wear a back brace for three months and missed the high school tennis season.

“It’s amazing knowing I don’t have to be tentative with my back,” Swiggart said.

Swiggart plays Eli Winegardener of Fairview in the semifinals. Kollen Kaltenbacher of Air Academy, whom Weinberg defeated in a dual Thursday, is in the other semifinal against Ian Craighead of Littleton.

Weinberg (4-1) kept the loss in perspective, bouncing back to win his first match in consolation and is one win away from playing for fifth place.

“The tournament is still young, it was an early match,” Weinberg said. “I’ll try to come back and win the back draw. It’s definitely not a letdown in any way. You learn from losing, which is good. In no way am I discouraged at all.”


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