Wildcats close in on SWL title

Fruita Monument’s Janine Kirtland returns a shot Thursday during her 6-1, 6-3 victory at No. 1 singles. Fruita topped Grand Junction 5-2.

The Fruita Monument High School girls tennis team is in position to make history this season.

The Wildcats defeated Grand Junction 5-2 in a Southwestern League dual Thursday at Grand Junction High School to put themselves in position to win a rare Southwestern League title.

“This is historic for us,” Fruita coach Clint Davis said. “This will be our first league championship since 1990 or ‘91. We still have to beat Cortez, Durango and Central (next week) so we don’t want to overlook anybody, but this is humongous. It’s hard to imagine two more evenly matched teams with a total of four matches go the opposite way this time.”

Fruita Monument (7-0, 2-0 SWL) won two matches it lost against Grand Junction (8-2, 4-1 SWL) in the previous nonleague dual. The Wildcats won three three-set matches as well.

Senior Channing Hayward defeated Alex Proietti 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 at No. 2 singles in another tight match.

“Channing found a groove at the tournament in Denver,” Davis said. “She’s been playing so well. I think she was totally confident she could do it and played a great match.”

The Wildcats’ No. 2 doubles team of sophomores Jenna Caldwell and Meredith Soychak rallied from a set down to defeat Margeaux Prinster and Kylie Pond 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.

“It all comes down to mental toughness and believing you can do it,” Davis said. “Once they figured out their strategy was working they came through in the clutch.”

It was the Wildcats’ No. 4 doubles team of juniors Lucy Hartshorn and Camille Kovach, though, that clinched the team victory with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win.

“It’s really exciting,” Kovach said. “The last time we beat Junction was the first time in a long time. It’s good to get it again.”

Fruita’s No. 3 doubles duo of Emily McGovern and McKenzie Kimball finished off the victory with a 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 6-3 win over Nicky Arja and Emma Holt.

Fruita No. 1 singles player Janine Kirtland defeated Maddie Hayduk 6-1, 6-3.

“It was a really consistent, good match,” Kirtland said. “Even though the score didn’t reveal that, she played really good.”

Grand Junction’s No. 1 doubles team of Emmie Madison and Madison Gurley avenged a loss to Fruita earlier this season with a 6-4, 6-2 victory and Grand Junction No. 3 singles player Samantha Weinberg defeated Taryn Moon 6-4, 6-2.

Central 5, Montrose 2

The Warriors won three of four doubles matches and two singles matches for the Southwestern League victory.

Montrose’s Jessica Vickers defeated Aimee Basinski 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 singles.

Central’s Jamie Johnson won 6-0, 6-4 at No. 2 singles and Katie Murphy won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.

The only match the Warriors lost in doubles went three sets.


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