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Durango tennis concludes season at regionals

DHS places in five brackets, but misses state cuts
Rowan Hall of Durango High School plays at No. 3 singles earlier in the season. Hall ended placing fourth at 4A Region 8 championships. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The Durango boys tennis team placed in five of the seven brackets at the 4A Region 8 championships Thursday and Friday in Grand Junction, but none of the Demons qualified for the state championships with a top-two finish.

Hunter Grey and Michael Shires came the closest to qualifying for DHS at No. 4 doubles.

The duo, seeded No. 2, received a bye in the first round. In the semifinals, they beat Grand Junction High School in straight sets, 6-4 and 6-4, to advance to the championship.

Durango fell to Central in the final, 6-0 and 6-4. And since they hadn’t yet played the third-place finisher from Basalt, they had to compete in a playback match to decide a true second. Basalt, however, won that match to take the final spot. Grey and Shires will be state alternates.

Singles players Griffin Hall and Rowan Hall and doubles players Leo Stritikus and Hays Stritikus, and Will Benac and Nate Claassen all placed fourth at the regional championships.

At No. 1 singles, Griffin Hall entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed. In the first round, he shut out Aspen 6-0, 6-0 to advance to the semifinals.

Hall fell to the eventual champion from Vail Christian, Kai Otsuki, in the semis 6-2, 6-0.

In the third-place match, Griffin Hall won his first set, 6-3, but Steamboat Springs’ Nash Whittington rallied to win the next two sets, 6-1 and 6-2, to finish third.

Fifth-seeded Calan Barnhardt lost his opening match at No. 2 singles to the No. 2 seed from Vail Christian, 6-1, 6-1.

Barnhardt then fell to the eventual third-place finisher from Steamboat, 6-4 and 6-2.

At No. 3 singles, Rowan Hall, the No, 3 seed, lost a close match to the No. 7 seed from Steamboat Springs in the first round 6-4, 6-4.

Rowan, however, stormed back and beat the No. 2 seed from Aspen in a tiebreaker the next round. After dropping the first set, 6-4, Rowan scored a 6-3 win to force a deciding third set. Rowan won that set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (11-9).

Durango’s No. 1 doubles team, Carter Ward and Patrick McBrayer, entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed and had to play the No. 2 seed from Vail Christian in the first round.The mact was close, but Vail emerged with a 6-4, 6-4. Unluckily for DHS, the Vail duo lost in the next round so Ward and McBrayer didn’t get pulled back into the tournament.

At No. 2 doubles, the Stritikus brothers won their first match, 6-7, 6-0 and 6-2. In the semis, they battled hard against Aspen, but eventually lost in a tiebreaker 6-2, 2-6, 6-7 (5-7). They came back and beat Steamboat in three sets, 6-7 (6-8)m 6-0, 6-0 to reach the third-place match. Vail Christian, however, beat the DHS duo 6-3, 6-4 and went on to win a true-second place match to advance to state.

Benac and Claassen also won their first round match for Durango at No. 3 doubles The duo, seeded second, beat No. 5 Aspen 6-0, 6-3. In the semis, they fell in three sets to Central 6-4, 4-6 and 2-6.

Benac and Claassen then beat Vail Christian 6-0, 6-0 to reach the third-place match. Steamboat’s Caleb Gourmik and Eli Ince, however, beat DHS 6-4, 6-4 and later won their playback match to qualify for state.

Grand Junction won five of the brackets to claim the team title. Vail Christian finished second, followed by Steamboat, Grand Junction Central, Durango, Aspen and Basalt.