Panthers continue impressive early-season run
Team finishes second in Delta-County Invitational
Courtesy Photo/Dan Wood
Roughly three weeks into the season, the Montezuma-Cortez High School Panthers’ tennis team is looking as strong as it has in years.
Competing against seven teams in the Delta County Invitational tournament on Sept. 13, several Panthers’ players finished undefeated and no Panthers’ player finished without a victory in route to a second place team finish.
Putting his unblemished record (3-0) on the line in the No. 1 singles tournament, Panthers’ standout Logan Dean received a first-round bye before besting a player from Cedaredge High School in the second round by a score of 6-2, 6-1.
In the No. 2 singles tournament, Graham Cathey was equally impressive, also receiving a first-round bye and subsequently beating a Cedaredge player in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0.
Playing at No. 3 singles, Si Eckart began the tournament with a tough 2-6, 1-6 loss to a player from Hotchkiss before besting a player from Steamboat Springs in a consolation bracket pro-set, 8-5.
“(Eckart) was down 2-5 and he won six straight points to get the win,” said Panthers’ head coach Dan Wood. “He is consistent, and he has a great attitude. I wish more boys would emulate that attitude.”
In the No. 1 doubles tournament, the Panthers’ duo of Ford Wegner an Todd Underwood continued their early-season tear, besting Hotchkiss 7-5, 6-0, after receiving a first-round bye.
“(Wegner and Underwood) were down 2-5 in the first set and then (Wegner) started getting his serve to the opponents’ backhand side,” said Wood. “At that point, (Underwood) started hammering it down at the net.”
At No. 2 doubles, the Panthers entered Woodrow Grey and Noah Porter, along with their usual duo of Samir Berrada and Xavier Eddy. While Grey and Porter lost their opening match to a team from Hotchkiss, 2-6, 1-6, Berrada and Eddy were more successful, posting a 6-0, 6-2 first-round victory over Cedaredge before losing to Steamboat Springs, 2-6, 1-6, in the second round.
Looking to make waves in the No. 3 doubles tournament, Tyler Daniel and Dayne Black recorded a 6-2, 6-0, first-round victory over a Hotchkiss junior varsity team before falling to Montrose 2-6, 2-6, in the second round.
(Black) is a baseball pitcher,” said Woods. “People who can throw are usually good tennis players. (Daniel) is starting to get his serve in. I expect big things from them in the matches to come.”
In the No. 4 doubles tournament, Panthers’ Wyatt Yates and Cody Canzona began their day with a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Hotchkiss. Panthers’ sophomore Grant Gassoway, paired with a player from Steamboat Springs, recorded a victory over Montrose before later besting Yates and Canzona.
Rain forced the tournament’s championship matches to be canceled, leaving the Panthers’ in second place overall. However Wood said he thought the Panthers’ likely would have finished first had the final matches been played.
“The team played very well,” he said. “They met all of my expectations. The only disappointment was the rainout.”
Next on the Panthers’ schedule are home matches against Grand Junction Central, Grand Junction High School and Aspen on Sept. 20-21.
“I’m hoping to have some upsets,” said Wood of the upcoming matches. “(Upsets) would help us with our seeding in regionals. Against those teams, we’ll definitely learn some things.”