Azure Eller entered the Delta Invitational with a 6-1 record at No. 3 singles and a bad cold. But that didn't seem to bother the sophomore first-year player, who posted an opening-round, 6-4, 6-4 win over Fruita Monument JV, then caught a second wind, posting a 6-2, 6-0 win in the semifinals over Montrose.
His only loss of the two-day tournament was a 6-3, 6-0 match to Grand Junction Central's Lael Nordstrom in Saturday's championship match.
Central was just two flights short of a sweep of the tournament, claiming titles in all singles matches and at 3 and 4 doubles.
Hotchkiss placed fifth overall with 30 points.
Aspen made a last-minute decision to send its junior varsity squad, which was fine for Hotchkiss 1 singles Tony Ibarra, who was seeded fifth and opened with a 5-7, 7-5, 10-8 win over his opponent.
"It was close the whole way around," said the senior, who placed fourth after losses to Central and Cortez. "He returned everything and I returned everything."
"Just an outstanding match for Tony," said head coach Brian Benson, who organized the event.
No. 2 singles Brydie Mitchell opened the tournament with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Fruita and was leading 2-0 over Cortez when he tweaked his ankle. Mitchell was forced to retire from the tournament, said Benson, but despite having to forfeit, his opening win gave him a fourth-place finish.
No. 1 doubles David Oviedo and Ulises Mendoza "unfortunately ran into a buzz saw in each of their matches," said Benson.
The duo was paired in the opening round against Central, then was eliminated by Grand Junction.
No. 2 doubles Tyler Suppes and Keegan Burke were equally outplayed, losing first to Central, then to Grand Junction.
No. 3 doubles Caleb Bayles and Josh Parsons won their opening match against Grand Junction, posting a 7-5, 6-1 win. The pair then faced Central in the semifinal round, posting a 6-3, 6-1 loss, then played what Benson described as "... probably the best doubles performance we have had this year," defeating Aspen, 6-3, 6-3, to place third.
Alex Hulteen and Quentin Varner played well, but didn't post a win, losing a tough opening match at 4 doubles against Fruita (7-5, 6-3), then receiving a bye to the consolation finals. They played to an 8-6 "heart-breaker" loss against Montezuma-Cortez to place sixth. "A really fine performance by these two," said Benson.
Cedaredge placed eighth with 8 points. All three singles players were paired against Central in the opening round of play, and all three posted 6-0, 6-0 losses.
"I got a lot of experience out of it," said Bruins No. 1 singles Austin Bowen, who, along with younger brother and 2 singles player Ryan, was taking the loss in stride. "It was a fun learning match."
Ryan Bowen faced Central's Drake Giese. "He had really good serves," said the sophomore. "I could barely return them. If I did hit it, the ball just flew."
No. 1 doubles players Eckhart Landen and Arie Wick lost, 6-0, 6-2, in the opening round against Montrose, then played an eight-game power set against Fruita, losing 8-3.
"I think this tournament was a good experience for the new guys on the team because it allowed them to familiarize with several teams with diverse talent," said head coach Derrick Griffiths. "Just like every match we have had this season, my guys play hard and always keep a great attitude, no matter what the result is."blog comments powered by Disqus