Cedaredge 2D player Andrea Bray backs up teammate Madison Hulteen as Hulteen scores against Roaring Fork in the first round of play in the 4A Region 8 tennis tournament. The 4D team of Katie O’Hern and Sierra McHugh will attend state.
For the first time in almost a decade, Delta County will send tennis players to the state 4A tennis tournament.
The Cedaredge High School 4 doubles team of Katie O'Hern and Sierra McHugh qualified after defeating Delta's Rachel Tallent and Emily Kuta Friday in a playback at the 4A Region 8 tournament, held May 3 and 4 at Canyon View Park in Grand Junction.
A total of 12 schools competed in the tournament.
Playbacks give a player or players who lose in early rounds a chance to redeem themselves and qualify for state after the final matches have been played. Only the top two finishers advance to state.
Kuta and Tallent went into the tournamentseeded third, and O'Hern and McHugh were fourth. Both received first-round byes.
Photo by Tamie Meck Members of the Hotchkiss tennis team enjoy the sunshine on Thursday. Hotchkiss will lose five seniors, but, with 25 players out for this year’s team, the Lady Bulldogs expect another good season in 2013.
In quarterfinals, O'Hern and McHugh defeated eighth-seed Sidney Taylor and Kellyn Alexander of Montrose in split sets; Kuta and Tallent won in split sets over Anna Wright and Emma Hagen of Durango.
In the semifinals, O'Hern and McHugh fell to No. 1-seed Steamboat Springs, 6-2, 6-2, while Kuta and Tallent defeated Vail Mountain, 6-3, 7-6, 7-2.
All of the matches were very competitive, said both Cedaredge coach Don McFadden and Delta coach Christina Curtis.
"Steamboat is obviously the better team," said McFadden, but Delta and Cedaredge "are very close" in terms of ability.
On Friday, Kuta and Tallent lost to Steamboat Springs in the finals, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1. They had the skills to win, said Curtis, but they just weren't playing at the top of their game like they were on Thursday.
O'Hern and McHugh placed third after defeating seventh-seed Durango, 6-4, 6-1. They were feeling good and were rested, and challenged Delta to a playback.
Tallent and Kuta were tired after three grueling sets, and upset over the loss. For Delta, "There was no confidence going into the match," said Curtis.
To play their best after a tough loss, "That's hard to do, mentally," said McFadden.
Photo by Tamie Meck
Paonia 3D players Nichelle Feryanitz, front, and Heather Wilczek play a tough match against Mariah Martin and Annaly Ruiz of Delta. Paonia will lose only three seniors. With nine freshmen and a strong junior class, they expect a good 2013 season.
McFadden praised both teams for their performance. "There was a lot of good sportsmanship in that match," said McFadden, who is finishing his 34th year and 45th season of coaching.
The state 4A tournament begins this Thursday in Pueblo.
Cedaredge earned seven points to tie with Roaring Fork for eighth place. Ashleigh Balistreri and Ashlee Love were seeded third, and defeated No. 7 Montrose, 6-2, 6-1 Thursday. They lost in split sets in the semifinals to No. 2 Aspen.
Delta ended Thursday's matches in fourth place with 23 points. They were disappointed after dropping to fifth place on Friday, just one point behind Vail Mountain. But overall, they fared better than last year when they placed eighth, said Curtis.
"The girls played the matches of their lives," said Curtis, whose team sent all 11 players into Thursday's quarterfinals. Two singles Sabrina Archibeque defeated Anastasia Burgess of Cedaredge, 6-3, 6-2, then lost to top-seeded Rachel Grubbs of Steamboat, who went on to win the tournament. Fourth-seeded Diana Ortega earned a first-round bye at 3S, then defeated Amber Rankin of Hotchkiss, 6-1, 6-0. Ortega finished fourth after a 6-3, 6-4 loss on Friday to No. 3 Montrose.
One singles Alaisa Melgoza, the No. 8 seed, advanced after a first-round win over Roaring Fork, then lost to No. 4-seed Sarai Zilm of Glenwood Springs, 6-4, 7-5.
"Obviously I would have liked to win. It would have been a nice upset," said Melgoza, a four-year player. "But I'm very pleased with how I played. It's probably one of the best matches I've played in my whole career."
Zilm, a powerful player, was serving really well, and Melgoza answered with numerous, solid returns. "We had some really good rallies... Some of the sets were really long and I had to run down every point."
This year, Delta will lose 11 seniors, 10 of whom are on varsity. "It's going to be hard next year, but I think they can do it," said Melgoza, a senior who encourages girls to consider giving tennis a try. "Tennis is not an easy sport," said Melgoza, who played at 2S her junior year and teamed at 1D with twin sister Asiala her sophomore year. Asiala was unable to compete this year due to injuries.
Melgoza said she never considered winning or losing in choosing to play tennis. "When you start, you really don't think about regionals. It's more about having a good season and learning how to play this bizarre sport. A lot of girls end up liking it and wishing they would have come out earlier."
And it is tough to win at regionals, since many of the schools have access to year-round facilities and tennis pros.
Photo by Tamie Meck Delta 1S player Alaisa Melgoza returns a shot against Sarai Zilm of Glenwood. Zilm won in three sets.
Paonia 1 single Annavah Kropp was seeded seventh and advanced to the quarterfinals with a first-round, 6-3, 6-0 win over Christa Beiriger of Hotchkiss. "I was slow to get started," said Kropp, the only Paonia player to get past first-round competition. She then faced third-seed Haley Hopkinson of Aspen in the quarterfinals. It was the first meeting between the two, since Hopkinson wasn't on the roster when Aspen and Paonia went head to head. Kropp was up on Hopkinson early in the first set, but Hopkinson was consistent and never let her guard down. She pulled ahead of Kropp and went on to win, 6-4, 6-0.
"I had a lot of unforced errors," said Kropp, who was hoping for, but not expecting, playback. "It was definitely a learning experience." Kropp already has plans to compete at both singles and doubles in the Taco Bell Western Slope tournament this July, and will likely pick up more matches along the way. "I think next year will be my peak year. We'll see."
In looking forward to her senior year, Kropp said she definitely needs to get stronger. She sees a good season ahead for her team, if they can get on the court in the off season. Paonia will lose three seniors: Kayla Wilczek, Mary Moll and Kaity Johnson.
"Next year looks good," said head coach Kyle Banks. This year, "We have nine freshmen. We should have a pretty good team."
Three of Hotchkiss' doubles teams were ranked in the top four and received first-round byes. In quarterfinals, two doubles Meaghan Wright and Kristina Deloury were upset by 12th seed Vail Mountain, 6-1, 6-1. At 4 doubles, Faline Farmer and Sadie Smith were seeded at No. 2, and were upset by Vail Mountain, a team that had defaulted on them in head to head competition.
Only 3 doubles Ciara Beagle and Jessi Violett advanced past quarterfinals, then fell to tournament champions Summer Smalley and Brooke Metzler of Steamboat Springs.
Hotchkiss will graduate all of its singles players, Christa Beiriger, Kelsey Milner and Amber Rankin, and 1 doubles players Leah Palecki and Sidney Sauter.