Led by Leasure, Aspen boys tennis beats Grand Junction in first home meet | AspenTimes.com

Led by Leasure, Aspen boys tennis beats Grand Junction in first home meet

Aspen High School senior Dillon Leasure is ready to handle the pressure this season. Playing at No. 1 singles for the AHS boys tennis team for the third time in four years, he says he benefited from playing No. 2 singles a year ago with Penn-signee Matt Lambert holding down the top spot in 2016.

"It made high school tennis a lot more enjoyable. There is not as much pressure," Leasure said of playing No. 2 singles last fall. "I'm feeling good. It feels good to play a lot of tennis. I haven't been playing as much this summer, so it's good to get back out there."

Leasure is back at No. 1 singles and is the unquestioned leader of the team. He made easy work of Grand Junction's Cal Hegstrom on Tuesday, winning 6-1, 6-2, part of a 5-2 win for the Skiers. Tuesday's meet at the Aspen Golf and Tennis Club was the first of two home meets this season for Aspen, the other coming Sept. 5 against Fruita Monument.

The Skiers swept the singles matches against Grand Junction on Tuesday. Junior Alex Ilic won 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 over Cameron Weekerly at No. 2 singles, and senior Gabriel Suarez won 6-4, 6-3 over Luke Albert at No. 3 singles.

The teams split the doubles matches, with Aspen taking No. 1 and No. 2. David Zalinsky and Jonah Kelley are holding down the No. 1 doubles spot for the Skiers, while Christian Kelly and George Ghali are at No. 2. The No. 3 and No. 4 doubles teams are still battling it out to see who will be on the court come regionals.

"On any given day they could each beat each other up. Who gets the spot? That's a tough one," AHS coach Gary Quandt said. "But I'm really pleased with how hard they've been working. I think we should win regionals and have a good shot at a high finish in state. I'm kind of excited about that."

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The Skiers finished fourth at state in Class 4A a year ago, one of the best seasons in school history. Leasure, who took third at state at No. 2 singles last year, hopes to be a factor for the state title at No. 1 singles this year.

"It would be cool to get into the top two at state, but right now we just have to focus on getting ready for regionals and trying to win that," Leasure said. "It's going to be hard to top last year, but I think we are going to do all right in the season."

Ilic took fourth at state at No. 3 singles last year, while Suarez played on the No. 1 doubles team in 2016, making the state semifinals. This year's No. 1 team of Zalinsky and Kelley played No. 2 doubles last year, winning a match at state.

Many of the players competing for the No. 3 and 4 doubles teams are freshmen and sophomores.

The Skiers will head to Grand Junction for regional play the first week of October, where players like Leasure can claim their positioning for the state tournament, held a week later in Pueblo.

"This year I think he is primed for a really good year," Quandt said of Leasure. "A lot of the top guys have graduated, so he's got to be in the top four or five in the state, probably, playing high school tennis. He should do pretty well."

The Skiers next play Thursday at Grand Junction Central.

acolbert@aspentimes.com