Sailors tennis prepares for state |

Sailors tennis prepares for state

Sailors coach focuses on 1st round, which starts at 9 a.m. Thursday

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Max Roder hits a backhand during practice Tuesday. The Sailors leave today for the three-day state tournament in Pueblo.

It’s easy to get lost in the big picture of the Class 4A state tennis tournament.

Go through the draws, fill in the names and pick out the matchups that could decide the winners and losers.

But when Steamboat Springs High School tennis coach John Aragon looks at the tournament and his team, the big picture is one thing the coach doesn’t want his players thinking about.

“Anyone losing in the first day, they’re done for the tournament,” Aragon said. “That first day is the key. Looking at most of our players, they’re playing a No. 2 position from another district. We’ve got to get through that first round.”

The state tournament starts at 9 a.m. Thursday and runs through Saturday in Pueblo. A young but experienced Steamboat team enters the tournament as an under-the-radar type of team.

State stalwarts Kent Denver and Cheyenne Mountain are expected to again battle for a state title.

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But Aragon reminded observers not to count out this Steamboat bunch.

“Could they be in the top two? I think they could,” Aragon said. “They’re going to have to have a little bit of luck, but they’ll have to make their own luck.”

The Sailors seem to be hitting their stride just in time. Steamboat won its 12th consecutive regional title last week, with all 11 players bringing home a regional title.

Although the team is young at some spots, all three singles players – Jamey Swiggart, Keegan Burger and Mirko Erspamer – have state experience.

The No. 1 doubles team of Jack Burger and Jeff Lambart and No. 2 doubles player Vladan Chase also have experience at the state level.

“It’s the best tennis we see all year,” Chase said. “Once you get in there and you’re deep, you’re playing good teams. But we’re a top three team. It’s getting by the first day and believing we can get farther.”

The No. 3 doubles team of Luke Farny and Callum Richman and No. 4 doubles team of Kyle Rogers and Gabri Erspamer will be new to the state tennis scene.

But during the regular season, Steamboat played in the highly competitive Western Slope Open in addition to dual matches with top teams Greeley West, Boulder and Kent Denver.

That competition has the Sailors thinking big.

“We have some new players, but they are really good players,” Gabri Erspamer said. “I think at the least we can place in the top two.”

A good indication of where Steamboat might be is in the first day’s draw. Although Steamboat avoids Kent Denver and Cheyenne Mountain players in the first round, a good portion of Steamboat’s players could see the two powerhouses in round two.

Those quarterfinals matches could go a long way in deciding where Steamboat finishes as a team.

Judging by the tone of Steamboat’s players, however, those expectations have Steamboat thinking about possibly unseating the two cornerstone programs.

“This year is our year to bring back one of those state trophies,” Mirko Erspamer said. “I definitely think we can give people something to talk about.”

If you go

What: Class 4A state tennis tournament

When: Starts at 9 a.m. Thursday and runs through Saturday

Where: Pueblo City Park

First round

Steamboat Springs High School first round state tennis draws

No. 1 singles

Jamey Swiggart vs. Lewis-Palmer’s Aidan Reid

No. 2 singles

Keegan Burger vs. Skyline’s David Boddiger

No. 3 singles

Mirko Erspamer vs. Longmont’s Derek Clark

No. 1 doubles

Jeff Lambart and Jack Burger vs. Mullen’s Tyler Goutermout and Daniel Conroy

No. 2 doubles

Max Roder and Vladan Chase vs. Rock Canyon’s Jack Belker and Chris Safran

No. 3 doubles

Luke Farny and Callum Richman vs. Lewis-Palmer’s Sam Smith and Corbin Jones

No. 4 doubles

Kyle Rogers and Gabri Erspamer vs. Greeley West’s Evan Baldwin and Ryne Carlson