Sans ace, the Demons soldier on

DHS girls tennis team picks up a handful of wins Day 1 in Junction

The always-tough Western Slope Open in Grand Junction isn’t an ideal place to be without your top singles player, but the Durango High School girls tennis team rallied and managed to pick up at least one victory at almost every position Friday.

Eva Lou Edwards, fresh off her straight-sets victory Thursday at Steamboat Springs, isn’t playing this weekend because of previous commitments, allowing Erin Neale to jump into the No. 1 slot for the Demons.

Neale fell to Palmer Ridge 6-2, 7-5 before topping Montrose 8-3 in a consolation pro set. She faltered 8-4 in each match against Poudre and Ralston Valley, but head coach Dave Weisfeldt still was happy with her performance.

“This just makes us tougher,” he said. “When you have to play up ... it kind of steels you for the tough challenges ahead.”

Ellen Southworth, who played at No. 2 singles last season, jumped back into that familiar position Friday. She fell 6-0, 6-1 before near misses against Dakota Ridge (8-6) and Poudre (9-7).

“She fell to Poudre ... in kind of a strange, schizophrenic looking match, but Ellen really kept her cool, kept her head,” Weisfeldt said.

Jamie Wanzek jumped from doubles to No. 3 singles, getting an 8-2 win over Pueblo West after a 6-0, 6-0 loss to Fairview and an 8-2 loss to Palmer Ridge.

Sierra Lillard and Gina Gates fell 6-1, 6-1 to Heritage before picking up an 8-1 win over Grand Junction Central. They capped the day at No. 1 doubles with a pair of close 8-6 losses to Chatfield and Palmer Ridge.

At No. 2 doubles, Claire Ochsner and Meredith Nass picked up an 8-6 win over Grand Junction to finish the day. The duo fell 6-1, 3-1 to Ralston Valley and 8-4 to Columbine.

“Anytime we can do anything against Junction is kind of a measuring stick for us,” Weisfeldt said.

The No. 3 doubles tandem of Anna Wright and Emma Hagen fell 6-0, 6-2 to Columbine, 8-1 to Steamboat Springs and 8-0 to Grand Junction Central, and at No. 4 doubles, Kit Hackett and Alexandra Hickey lost to Pueblo West 6-3, 7-5 and Chatfield 8-4 before topping Grand Junction 8-5.

heraldsports@durangoherald.com