Steamboat tennis wraps up disappointing state tourney |

Steamboat tennis wraps up disappointing state tourney

— A weekend that started with hopes for a top-three team finish at the state tournament in Pueblo bottomed out Saturday as the two remaining Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis team entries lost in straight sets in the consolation finals.

Still, No. 2 singles player Keegan Burger and the No. 4 doubles team of Gabri Erspamer and Kyle Rogers found they could take pride in their weekend and fourth-place medals from the Class 4A state tournament.

“Overall, in the tournament, we did pretty good,” Erspamer said. “I thought we could get second or third here, but I still go away feeling good because we got the medals. I really want to do better next year.”

Both entries had to rally in their consolation semifinal matches late Friday just to earn the chance to play Saturday.

When the fruits of those efforts came, however, the players couldn’t summon the same comebacks.

Burger lost, 6-1, 6-2, to Niwot freshman Harrison Long, and Erspamer and Rogers fell to Fossil Ridge’s Nathan Liston and Tanner Trace, 6-2, 6-2.

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“We got off to a slow start and basically stayed there for the whole match,” Erspamer said. “I think all those other matches this week wore me out for today.”

Both entries had moments where it appeared they might make a match of it.

Burger fell behind and was quickly washed away in the first set, and was down 3-0 in the second. He strung together back-to-back victories, however, and appeared to be on the verge of a real swing.

At his best, Long had Burger hoofing it from one end of the baseline to the other and then occasionally running desperately forward with a perfect change of pace. He returned Burger’s offerings with the consistency of a brick wall.

Finally, early in the second set, Burger found cracks in the mortar. He began to dictate the pace of play, and the freshman didn’t handle it well, loudly arguing calls, slamming balls into the fence between points and tossing his racket high in the air.

He walked out and away from the court during the changeover after Burger’s two wins.

Wherever he went, he found his composure. Burger lost two points to double faults in his ensuing service game, and the rally was deflated.

“I thought Keegan might have it. I saw it coming out in his eyes and his speed. You could hear it, how he was stroking the ball,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said. “But you have to give that kid credit. He didn’t let it happen.”

Erspamer and Rogers faced similar struggles with gaining and sustaining momentum.

Their only lead of the match came as Erspamer won his service game to open the second set. They couldn’t make it two in a row, and Fossil Ridge opened the second set up the same way it had the first.

“We made most of the mistakes,” Erspamer said. “We were setting them up for most of the balls they got clean winners out of. We kept giving them easy ones.”

Rogers said the effort was a far cry from the kind of tennis that lifted the pair into the match.

“We definitely didn’t play our best. Our intensity was low the entire match,” Rogers said.

“I didn’t have the motivation I had (Friday). Either way you get a medal, and they were pretty good. Thinking like that was my biggest mistake.”

State results

No. 2 singles

Harrison Long, Niwot, def. Keegan Burger, Steamboat, 6-1, 6-2

No. 4 doubles

Nathan Liston and Tanner Trace, Fossil Ridge, def. Gabri Erspamer and Kyle Rogers, Steamboat, 6-2, 6-2.