Shorn solidarity honors banner tennis season |

Shorn solidarity honors banner tennis season

John Aragon, head coach of the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team, gets his head shaved by Brooke Engeseth (not pictured) at the Tennis Center on Tuesday afternoon. Aragon promised his players that he would shave his head if the team placed third or better at the state tournament, which they did.

— John Aragon and Don Toy half-joked that they should have been coaching for the opposition.

The Steamboat Springs boys tennis coaching tandem had to swallow their words of inspiration Tuesday, after making the Sailors an offer they couldn’t refuse. The coaches told the team to improve on a fourth-place finish at the 2007 Class 4A state championship, and their coaches would take the razor to their heads. Aragon would shave his head of black hair and Toy, already sporting the look, would shear his eyebrows.

The Sailors followed through on their part of the deal. Led by senior Ramsey Bernard, who defeated Cheyenne Mountain’s Justin Hermes, 6-0, 6-2, in the No. 1 singles championship match, Steamboat finished in third behind Cheyenne Mountain and Kent Denver on Saturday in Pueblo. Bernard’s win made him the first Steamboat player to win a No. 1 singles title. The team’s finish this year also was its best result in nine years. Bernard also won a state championship at No. 3 singles his freshman year.

“In 25 years of going to the state tournament, that’s the most lopsided win at No. 1 singles I’ve ever seen,” Aragon said of Bernard’s title match. “He wanted it bad. He executed and played phenomenal.”

The win was finally starting to sink in for Bernard, who gathered with the rest of the team Tuesday for its final practice – more of a game-playing and picture-taking session than a workout as the team waited for the anticipated hair chopping.

“It was a nice one to end on, and it was nice to have everybody (on the team) get to see the competition,” Bernard said, eyeing the young ranks who will return next year as he considers his own future, courting a host of NCAA Division III recruiters from schools such as Pomona College and DePauw University.

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With the pictures done, Aragon and Toy could prolong their fates no longer. They headed inside the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and, before a crowd of nearly 40 players and parents, Aragon took the chair first. Aragon laughed as Hair on Earth’s Brooke Engeseth clippered off his sides, giving him the Mohawk-mullet combination his players crooned for. But then he gathered himself to address the team.

“The way you guys played this season, the way Ramsey played out there and the way you all competed – this is worth it,” Aragon said.

Toy, who opted to save face by shaving his legs after Aragon’s cut was complete, was pleased to see the young team, which returns everyone but Bernard and No. 2 singles player Matt Gadbois, mature, having played the state’s best.

“With the younger kids, there was a lot of goal-setting going on there,” Toy said.

As the team left the light-hearted proceedings, freshman No. 4 doubles player Mirko Erspamer was already thinking ahead.

“Now that we’ve been (to state), we want to go back, and we know that with the competition, it’s just going to get harder from here,” he said.

“I’m already ready to get on the courts next year,” said No. 3 singles player sophomore Jeff Lambart.

– To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253

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