Young Tigers leading Western Slope Invitational

Jeff Hansen and Matt Prinster are first-year varsity tennis players, but they are playing like veterans.

The Grand Junction High School No. 4 doubles team is one of two doubles teams and two singles players to win semifinal matches Friday to advance to the championship final of the Western Slope Invitational. The finals begin at 9:15 this morning at Canyon View Park.

The Tigers lead the tournament with 250 points. Denver East is second with 244, Chatfield third with 242 and Heritage fourth with 216.

“We’re a young team, especially down low,” Grand Junction coach Carol Elliott said. “I’m pleased with our progress so far this year. There are a lot of good teams here. It’s nice to know we can compete with a lot of talent from the Eastern Slope.”

Hansen and Prinster are a perfect example.

“They are very competitive,” Elliott said. “The key is never give up. We’re playing a lot of teams that hit the ball hard, but we keep fighting.”

Hansen and Prinster advanced to the semifinals with little problem, but found themselves behind to Chatfield’s Ben Gleave and Graham Good.

“After we lost the first set, we corrected some things we didn’t do well,” Prinster said. “After we won the second set, we went right into the (10-point) tiebreaker. We did a good job of not rushing or pressing.”

Parker Hegstrom reached the finals for the first time in his four-year varsity career at No. 3 singles. The senior defeated Woody Oliver of Heritage 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals.

“It’s always great to do your best in this tournament your senior year,” Hegstrom said. “It’s nice to know I’m peaking. It gives me confidence going into regionals knowing these teams may be there.”

Grand Junction’s No. 1 singles player Spencer Weinberg advanced to the finals with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Aspen’s Bryan Mehall.

Weinberg, a sophomore, will play ambidextrous player Keegan Burger of Steamboat Springs. Burger defeated Denver East’s Jake Malman 4-6, 6-2, 14-12 in the other semifinal.

Grand Junction’s No. 2 doubles team of Tate Hegstrom and Caleb Gartner and No. 3 doubles team of Daniel Ness and Jake Filutze lost in the semifinals, but will play for third place today.

Central’s No. 3 singles player Drake Giese and Fruita Monument’s No. 3 singles player Cody Iden reached the quarterfinals before losing. They were one victory from meeting in the semifinals.

Central’s No. 3 doubles team of Ryler Colunga and Jacob Bollinger reached the quarterfinals before losing to Ness and Filutze.


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