The Montezuma-Cortez High School boys tennis team split its two road matches with Hotchkiss, 7-0, and Aspen, 1-6, on Friday and Saturday.
The Hotchkiss match-of-the-day featured Cortez sophomore Graham Cathey, at No. 1 singles, versus senior Ryan Paschl in a three-hour marathon match. The first set started in Catheys favor (5-3 games) before a late rally by Paschl forced a tiebreaker at 6-6. Paschl won the tiebreaker to take the first set 7-6.
Paschl continued his strong play early in the second set taking a 5-3 game advantage before Cathey ran off the final four games to win the set, 7-5.
In the decisive set, both players began to show some fatigue under the afternoon sun. Paschl broke serve late in the set to take a 5-4 lead. Cathey, looking the fitter, refused to yield reeling off three consecutive games to take the deciding set, 7-5.
Ive seen some long, tough matches before. But for pure competitive spirit and will to win, this match was one of the best, M-CHS coach Dan Wood said. Graham deserves full credit for not folding under pressure when trailing in the final two sets. It was a gutsy performance.
Other matches at Hotchkiss included wins by Logan Dean, Zack Lamb, Nick Haukeness, Freeland and Ford Wegner, Todd Underwood, Caleb Branson, Jake Ritthaler, Jacob Valdez, and Samir Berrada. Lambs match featured a hard fought, comeback win in his first varsity singles match.
The following day against powerhouse Aspen, the Panthers felt the weight of the opposing teams experience and depth.
The Aspen marquee match featured sophomore Dean, at No. 2 singles vs. senior Jack Steven Anderson. From the outset, Dean controlled play taking the first set 6-4 using a mixture of accurate forehands, drop shots and tough defense. In the second set, Dean continued forcing play leading to a 6-1 blowout.
The remainder of the team struggled managing a handful of games per match.
Logan is becoming adept at sizing up his opponents weaknesses and using his strengths to exploit them. His forehand is now a formidable weapon. Wood said. The rest of the team played with enthusiasm, but with this being our second match, a lot was learned about our strengths and weaknesses that can be utilized in upcoming practices to improve future results.
On Saturday in Delta, the Panthers will play Cedaredge with a same day rematch against Hotchkiss.