Wildcats score rare doubles sweep
The math leading to a third set in high school tennis is simple. Each player won a set. The players are even.
Technically, that’s true, but Fruita Monument senior Jacque Soychak doesn’t see it that way. When the third set is reduced to a 10-point tiebreaker set like the one she had Monday against Central’s Abby Bridgett, Soychak believes she has the advantage.
And that’s the way things played out as Soychak won the tiebreaker 10-4 and triumphed in the lone match that went three sets as Fruita defeated Central 5-2 in a girls tennis dual at Canyon View Park.
What both coaches thought was a Southwestern League dual, however, may not have been. According to Central Athletic Director Randy Powell, the league schedule designated the first meeting between the two schools as their SWL dual, meaning Monday’s dual was nonleague.
If that’s the case, today’s 3 p.m. SWL match between Fruita and Grand Junction at Canyon View Park is not a battle of league unbeatens. Rather, the Tigers can win the SWL title outright with a win, or Fruita can pull into a three-way tie with the Tigers and Warriors at 4-1.
Powell said Monday night he didn’t know the three-way tiebreakers. He’ll check today.
What Fruita knows for sure is it avenged a 4-3 loss earlier in the season to the Warriors, and Soychak had the dual’s most exciting match, one laden with hard-fought games.
Soychak led the second set 3-0 and 4-3, but Bridgett claimed the final three games, including drawn-out affairs for the two that put her ahead 5-4.
“She’s a good player,” Soychak said. “She won a lot of good points.”
The momentum appeared to belong to Bridgett, but Soychak was comfortable with what awaited. With the tiebreaker tied 4-4, Soychak took control and claimed the final six points and the match.
“I’ve always really liked 10-point tiebreakers,” she said. “I feel like I do well under pressure. ... (Today) the 10-point tiebreaker felt like a clean slate. I was just ready to play again.”
Fruita Monument coach Clint Davis has seen this before from Soychak.
“That’s her history,” he said. “Close matches, she pulls them out.”
The Wildcats also won a close match at No. 1 doubles, as Lindsay Dempsey and Sara Cesark prevailed 7-5, 7-5, and that gave Fruita a rare doubles sweep.
“To sweep an Elliott-coached team in doubles is a huge accomplishment,” Davis said, referring to Central coaches Kathy Elliott and David Elliott and Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott. “They coach doubles better than anyone in the state.”
Davis said after Monday’s dual he didn’t know what was going on with the league standings. Regardless, his team has a dual against Grand Junction that it will try to win this afternoon. Then, it’s on to the Class 5A regional next week, where his players will encounter Central and Grand Junction again in matches that matter for state qualifying.
About Monday, he added, “It was a good day, but it was one step in the process. ... We’re happy but still need to work hard.”