"I did it"
Mission junior Spencer Ahlborn comes back from opening-set losses in semifinal and final matches to capture state championship
When Mission’s Spencer Ahlborn smashed an overhead shot to win the 2010 Montana Class B-C Singles Championship and raised his arms in celebration on the University of Montana courts Saturday morning, only three words came to his mind.
“I did it,” Ahlborn said is what he was thinking after completing the comeback against Bigfork’s Bridger Mahlum.
With his 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over the Viking senior, Ahlborn became only the second Bulldog singles champion, with both championships coming in the past four years, but unlike Casey Cable in 2007, as a junior Ahlborn will get a chance to defend his title.
Most all of the Bulldog team, who finished just two points shy of second place, will get a chance to improve on their performance at the state tournament. The Bulldogs will only lose Bass LaBaisa-Ard, who went 1-2 at the tournament, making Mission coach Kimimi Ashley excited for next year.
Ahlborn went 4-0 at the tournament and wasn’t really challenged until his semifinal match against Valley Christian’s Josiah Petersen Friday. It was the first time that the two top-tier players from the Western B-C Division had faced each other this season. Petersen took the first set 6-4 and was leading the second set 5-4, when Ahlborn decided he wasn’t going to lose.
“I knew I had to step it up another notch and increase my intensity a little bit,” Ahlborn said. “Something in me just snapped. I didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t want it to end that way.”
After a couple of aces put Ahlborn up 6-5, Ashley said she could feel the momentum change and saw that Ahlborn was determined to win.
“It was the first time I saw him get mad,” Ashley said. “He settled down and was like ‘OK, I’ve had enough’ and had the mindset that he wasn’t going to lose.”
In the third set, Ahlborn started focusing on placing the ball instead of killing it and earned a spot in the championship with a 6-4 victory.
In the championship match, Ahlborn lost the first set 6-2, but Ashley wasn’t worried.
“He’s definitely one of the smartest players. It’s very common for him to use the first set to figure a person out and then he goes to work in the second set,” Ashley said.
What Ahlborn learned in the first set, was that Mahlum wasn’t going to use a lob, so he started charging the net. With his strong net play and accurate serving Ahlborn ran away with the final two sets.
Mission number two doubles team of Trail Bundy and Nikko Alexander were the only other Bulldogs to join Ahlborn on the final day of the tournament at the university courts. Ashley said riding the “adrenaline high” of winning the Best of the West tournament the week before, the duo she didn’t put together until past the midway mark of the season, played their best tennis of the season to finish in sixth place. Bundy, a junior, and Alexander, only a freshman, went 3-3 at the tournament. They rallied from an opening three-set loss to Valley Christian’s Jordan Potter and Matthew Bohlken Thursday at the Playfair Park, by not dropping a set in their next three matches. In the fifth/sixth match against Cut Bank’s Dylan Johnston and Charles Cooper, Bundy and Alexander were leading in both sets, but ended up losing, with the second set going to a tiebreaker.
“It was one of those things. I was sad that they loss, but I knew how well they played,” Ashley said.
Mission’s number one doubles team of brothers Brian and Kyle Schock went 1-2 at the tournament, picking up a win against Troy’s Derrick Winslow and Jeffery Rebo in their second match.
Wesley Nowlan, Mission’s number two singles player, went 2-2 at the tournament. The junior didn’t drop a game in his opening set against Troy’s Logan Lundin, but then ran into Conrad’s Calen King. Like he did to Mission’s Wyatt McCollum last year, King ended Nowlen’s championship hopes, unfortunately unlike McCollum last year; Nowlen didn’t get to redeem the loss in a consolation match.
Ashley said that Nowlen had the potential to play against Ahlborn in the finals, but wasn’t in top form at the tournament. She is hoping that the junior will use the experience of the tournament to help him next year.
“I think he’ll realize at state two or three points can make all the difference,” Ashley said.
Xavier Streets didn’t pick up a win at the tournament, but he will be back next year, so will Sarah Bowers. Bowers and teammate Becky Hiatt were the only Lady Bulldogs at the tournament. They opened the tournament with a 6-2, 7-6 loss to Fairfield’s Serina Hoyt and Lexi Bremer and then were eliminated with a tough three-set loss to Townsend’s Logan Weidman and Sophie Hegg. After winning the second set 6-4, Bowers and Hiatt took the Townsend’s team to the limit in the third set, before dropping the tiebreaker 9-7.
“Sarah and Becky were great fighters this year and they showed that fight by not ever just letting their opponents walk over them. They would play hard right to the end, but unfortunately the tiebreaks didn’t end in their favor,” Ashley said.
2010 Montana Class B-C Tennis Championship
University of Montana, May 20-22, 2010
Singles - Spencer Ahlborn, M, def. Geoffrey Glidewell, VC, 6-1, 6-3; Spencer Ahlborn, M, def. Colter Mahlum, BF, 7-6, 6-0; Spencer Ahlborn, M, def. Josiah Petersen, VC, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4; Spencer Ahlborn, M, def. Bridger Mahlum, BF, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2
Wesley Nowlan, M, def. Logan Lundin, T, 6-0, 6-0; Calen King, C, def. Wesley Nowlan, M, 6-1, 6-3; Wesley Nowlan, M, def. Arciello, L, 6-1, 6-0; Kauffman, VC, def. Knowlan, M, 6-2, 7-5
Jonathan Finch, L, def. Bass LaBaisa-Ard, M, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2); LaBaisa-Ard, M, def. O’Brien, C, 6-4, 6-4; Jordan Hoof, CB, def. LaBaisa-Ard
Jordan Hoof, CB, def. Xavier Streets, M, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0; Jake Higgins, T, def. Streets 6-4, 6-0;
Doubles - Schlosser/Janzen, def. Schock/Schock, M, 6-4, 6-0; Schock/Schock,M, def. Winslow/Rebo, T, Johnston/Cooper, CB, def. Schock/Schock 6-1, 6-2
Potter/Bohlken, VC, def. Bundy/Alexander, M, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1; Bundy/Alexanders, M, def. Hoffman/Sweet, T, 6-2, 6-2; Bundy/Alexander, M, def. Schlosser/Janzen, C, 6-4, 6-1; Bundy/Alexander, M, def. Tarbert/Gilligam, L, 6-4, 6-3; Potter/Bohlken, VC, def. Bundy/Alexander, M, 6-1, 6-4; Johnston/Cooper, CB, def. Bundy/Alexander, M, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5)
Doubles - Hoyt/Bremer, F, def. Bowers/Hiatt, M, 6-2, 7-6; Weidman/Hegg def. Bowers/Hiatt, M, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (9-7)