Tennis: Aspen’s Mehall wins No. 1 singles crown at regionals | AspenTimes.com

Tennis: Aspen’s Mehall wins No. 1 singles crown at regionals

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Michele Cardamone/Special to The Aspen TimesAspen No. 1 singles player Bryan Mehall returns a shot from Steamboat Springs' Jamey Swiggart during Friday's regional finals in Grand Junction.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Add one more dramatic highlight to Aspen No. 1 singles player Bryan Mehall’s stellar senior season.

Down a set and trailing 5-2 in the second, the senior battled back to pull out a tight three-set victory over familiar foe Jamey Swiggart of Steamboat Springs in Friday’s regional finals at Grand Junction’s Canyonview Park. The title assured Mehall a spot in next week’s 4A state tournament and helped propel the Skiers to a second-place finish. Steamboat captured the team title.

“I was on the court for almost every point of that match,” Aspen head coach Rob Simpson said. “It was a battle to the last point. Bryan and Jamey have had a pretty good rivalry the past couple years. Luckily, Bryan pulled this one out.”

Four teammates will join Mehall at state, which kicks off Thursday in Pueblo. Brett Gordon and Dylan Behr finished second at No. 1 doubles, while No. 2 doubles duo Kalen Gabow triumphed in a playback match to secure their spot in the field at Pueblo City Park.

Mehall, the tournament’s second seed, cruised through his early-round matches, dropping a total of three games in two dominating efforts against players from Cedaredge and Durango.

He encountered some adversity in the early stages of the finals against top-

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seeded Swiggart. Mehall dropped the first set, 4-6, then was facing the prospect of an unceremonious exit after a slow start in the second.

Undaunted, he battled back, winning five of the next six games to force a tiebreaker in which he prevailed, 7-4. He again pulled out a 7-6 (7-4) victory in the third set to clinch the victory.

“He really gutted it out,” said Simpson, whose squad entered regional play fresh off 7-0 victories over both Cedaredge and Hotchkiss on Oct. 3. “He showed a lot of heart to come back from that deficit and make it a match. In that [third-set] tiebreaker, he really took control. … It was pretty exciting for everyone.”

Gordon and Behr lost to Steamboat in Friday’s finals, but did not have to partake in a playback. (The players that finish third in the final standings are afforded the opportunity to square off with the No. 2 team for a playoff spot only if the second- and third-place teams did not meet during the early rounds.)

Gabow and Anderson, meanwhile, had to square off with Durango after a

7-5, 6-3 loss to Steamboat in the finals. They wound up pulling out a 6-3, 6-2 win.

The Skiers now will set their sites on Pueblo, where Simpson expects Mehall to be a major factor.

“I think Bryan could get a pretty high seed,” the coach said. “I think he’s got the potential to do some damage down there this year.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com