Kent Denver gives Sailor tennis regional-level experience

Austin Colbert

— There is a reason Kent Denver has won the previous two Class 4A state championships in boys’ tennis. They’re good — very good.

So when Kent Denver came to Steamboat Springs on Saturday for a single match with the Sailors, winning wasn’t a realistic goal for SSHS.

“It’s always good for us to practice against really strong teams,” assistant SSHS boys’ tennis coach Louis Nijsten said. “I think we did very well today. Everybody came out with a really good attitude, and that’s what we are looking for. Because we knew we were going to play a team that is really strong.”

The Sailors lost, 6-1, but the general feeling from both coaches and players was incredibly positive after the match, held at The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. The only SSHS win came from No. 2 singles player Charlie Smith, but the overall competitive nature of the match was exactly where the Sailors wanted it to be.

“Having this kind of competition come from Denver to Steamboat, it’s pretty amazing,” SSHS head tennis coach Jack Burger said. “I thought by no means it was a blowout. I thought they were in every match. I was pretty proud.”

Saturday’s match with Kent Denver was the final home match of the season for the Sailors. And as difficult as it was, the Steamboat coaches hope it will get the kids ready for regional play.

SSHS has only two more road trips before then, a pair of matches in Evergreen on Wednesday and two more in Grand Junction on Saturday. Then, it’s back to Grand Junction for regional play, beginning Oct. 8.

“Even though it was 6-1, as coaches, we were proud of how we did,” Nijsten said. “I think we can be pretty proud of the team. And this is a really good step up to regionals in a couple of weeks.”

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

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