Burger rallies to collect Sailors’ first state title since 2009

Steamboat's freshman phenom rallies to win Sailors' first state title since 2009

John F. Russell

— When Steamboat Springs High School freshman Tatum Burger arrived in Pueblo for the 4A Colorado State High School Tennis Championships earlier this week, she made it clear her goal was to win the No. 1 singles title.

“I came down here to win,” Burger said after Wednesday’s match. “I believed that I could do it. I believed in myself the whole time.”

Three days and four matches later, she reached her goal with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 win over St. Mary’s Academy senior Alex Weil. It was the Sailors first state title since Kylee Swiggart and Sara Bearss collected the No. 1 doubles title in 2009. This is the first time a member of the girls team has won a title in the No. 1 singles bracket.

The Steamboat Springs freshman, whose composure made her look more like a senior on the court, moved through the brackets and some of the top players in the state including Vanguard’s Alyx Callahan (6-0, 6-2), Colorado Academy’s Tara Edwards (6-0, 6-1) and Cheyenne Mountain’s Payton Fielding (7-5, 6-1).

The only hiccup of the week came in the first set of Wednesday’s championship tilt against Weil, when Burger lost a hard-fought, first set 4-6.

“I just tried to stay positive, and I didn’t really let it bother me,” Burger said of the first set loss.

Burger didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about the set, however. She rebounded by dominating the second set 6-0, and then reached her state championship goal in the next set with a 6-1 victory.

Following the match she was swarmed by family members including her brothers, who had come to see her, her sister, who is on the team, and her mom and dad. There were also plenty of friends and teammates who could not hide their excitement as they swarmed the newly crowned state champion as she left the court.

“She never quits, her feet are always moving and she fights for every point,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said after the match. “Once we started extending the rally and making her (Weil) make plays, it was in Tatum’s favor. She (Weil) started making errors, and she started to get tight.”

After the opening set win, Burger was able to make the adjustments she needed to keep the St. Mary’s Academy player off balance. As the match went on, the senior started missing serves and hitting return shots into the net.

“I told her we needed to make the points last,” Aragon said. “If you extend the points, this girl is going to make an error, and once she started making errors, she tightened up and couldn’t come out with those big forehands like she was early.”

Burger was one of seven champions crowned on the final day of the 4A State Tennis Championships.

Other winners included Kent Denver’s Caroline Kawula at No. 2 singles and teammate Maeve Kearney at No. 3 singles. Cheyenne Mountain dominated the doubles brackets bringing home titles at No.1 with Casey Ahrendsen and Ally Aronson, at No. 2 with Tory Louis and Claire Dibble and at No. 3 with Megan Dibble and Chelsey Geisz. D’Evelyn’s Trinity Payne and Cammy Lee earned the title at No. 4 doubles.

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

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