Four Demon players advance to Class 4A state tennis tourney
By Phil Sandoval
Post Independent Staff
GRAND JUNCTION – Pueblo isn’t one of Colorado’s biggest tourist draws, but for four members of the Glenwood Springs girls tennis team it’s the best place to be next week.
Why, would a city best-known for the State Fair and the U.S. publishing house suddenly become so appealing?
Simple. Pueblo is where the 4A state high school tennis championships are held.
And the Demons’ Molly Axelson, Jackie Weast, Regina Waltsak and Courtney McCallum can hardly wait for the trip for the Class 4A State Tournament which starts Thursday.
“I’ve been waiting four years for this,” said Molly Axelson after winning the No. 3 singles 4A Region 8 title. “Last year I just barely missed the cut, and I’m so excited.”
Among Glenwood’s state qualifiers, Axelson had the easiest match. The Demon senior finished her undefeated romp through the No. 3 singles bracket with a 6-4, 6-1 victory in the championship match over Hotchkiss’s Becky Myrtle on Saturday.
Axelson said consistency was the key to her win over Myrtle.
“I had a mindset to play my game, hit the ball correctly and just not let her mess me up,” Axelson said.
Instead, it was Axelson who messed up Myrtle.
In a rapidly-played match, the Hotchkiss player never got within two games of Axelson.
That wasn’t the case for the Demons other two players.
Before winning the No. 2 doubles title, the doubles team of Waltsak and Weast, and McCallum, the regional runner-up in No. 2 singles had some knuckle-gnawing moments en route to earning their state berths.
Waltsak and Weast breezed to a 4-1 first-set lead over Aspen’s Baylee Zwart and Robin Landis and appeared to have the match in control when momentum shifted to the Skier pair.
Zwart and Landis came back to win the first set 7-6. Then Waltsak and Weast regrouped and won the last two sets – 6-3, 6-2 – to gain their first regional title and second straight state tournament appearance in as many seasons.
McCallum had the toughest task of all.
After losing the No. 2 singles championship match to Steamboat’s Breanne Murray, 6-3, 7-5, McCallum had faced Aspen’s Jennifer Leddy in a challenge match for the last available state playoff berth in the division.
A rejuvenated McCallum whizzed her way to a 6-1 first-set win over the Aspen junior. With McCallum leading 2-1 in the second set, Leddy put the brakes on McCallum’s momentum.
Leddy broke McCallum’s serve for a 3-all tie, then charged to a 4-3 lead and appeared to be ready to open a wider margin when McCallum leaped high and returned a Leddy lob for a winner.
“It was definitely a turning point,” McCallum said. “I didn’t even know I could jump that high, it shifted the momentum completely.”
After hitting the shot, McCallum went on to win the game and the next two for a 6-3 victory and spot in the tournament.
In other Saturday matches, Glenwood’s Rachel Zancannella and Caitlyn Fowler took third place in the No. 4 doubles bracket and Roaring Fork’s Renee French lost the third-place game of the No. 3 singles bracket to Steamboat’s Stacy Cavanaugh 6-1, 6-3.In other Saturday matches, Glenwood’s Rachel Zancannella and Caitlyn Fowler took third place in the No. 4 doubles bracket and Roaring Fork’s Renee French lost the third-place game of the No. 3 singles bracket to Steamboat’s Stacy Cavanaugh 6-1, 6-3.
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Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or email@example.com