Aspen comes out on top for second week |

Aspen comes out on top for second week

Steamboat Pilot & Today

— If members of the Steamboat Springs tennis team want to bring home a regional, there is no question the squad will have to go through Aspen, despite the fact the tournament will be played in Grand Junction.

“We know the chances are that we are going to have to face Aspen at the regionals. I still think that we can beat them, but none of the matches will be easy,” Steamboat coach Joseph O’Dell said.

For the second time in two weeks, Aspen defeated Steamboat in a head-to-head match, this time during a triangular meet in Vail featuring Steamboat, Aspen and Vail Mountain. That triangular marked the last time the Sailors will see any of the teams they will face in the state qualifier.

Headed into that meet, which is slated for Oct. 7 at Grand Junction’s Canyon View Park, Aspen looks like the team to beat. The Skiers handled the Sailors last week 6-1 and swept past Vail Mountain, 7-0. Aspen also topped both teams last week, beating Vail Mountain 7-0, the the Sailors 5-2, without the squads’ No. 1 singles player, who was out with an illness.

“We had four good days of practice, but once we got into the match yesterday, Aspen just outplayed us,” O’Dell said.

Aspen got off to a strong start Tuesday with the team’s No. 1 singles player, Matthew Lambert — the same player who missed last week’s match due to illness — raced past Steamboat’s Charlie Smith in two sets 6-1, and 6-0. Aspen’s No. 2 singles player, Dillon Leasure, topped Steamboat’s Chase Adams, 6-2, 7-6, and the Skiers’ No.3, Alex Ilic, completed the sweep by beating Nolan Connel, 6-0, 7-6.

O’Dell was encouraged by several close sets in both the singles and doubles matches, but disappointed his players couldn’t close to the key points of the match.

Three of Steamboat’s four doubles teams struggled, as well, with Max Lynch and Ethan Paulus falling to Keegan Mehall and Gabe Suarez, 4-6, 6-4 and 6-2 at No. 1, River Fox-Welch and Wyatt Stempel falling to Jonah Kelley and David Zalinsky, 6-3, 7-6, at No. 2 doubles and Peter Wharton and Jack Bender falling to Nolan Farrey and George Gahil, 3-6, 7-5 and 6-1.

The lone bright spot for the Sailors came at the No. 4 doubles position, where Steamboat’s Roy Lundeen and Gabe Rabanal beat Nathan Bush and Zane Engels, 6-2, 6-2.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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