Looking ahead: Steamboat boys tennis plays to its advantages ahead of home matches
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — At the start of practice, tennis players line up on the base line to serve. The goal is make 10 in a row in a certain spot as a team.
The first player steps up and slams it in, but the second doesn’t make it, so together, they run a lap around two courts.
Steamboat Springs High School head tennis coach Bill Conway said this is one of two ways they can get their fitness work in. It’s either a tennis drill with running as punishment, or they all run later.
When senior John Hanaway steps up, a powerful spin serve lands in the corner of service court. The team doesn’t have to run.
“John’s big strength is he comes in well,” Conway said. “He moves forward well, and when his serve is working, it’s a really really tough serve.”
Hanaway pairs with junior Gabe Rabanal as the No. 1 doubles team. And it’s unusually how they are paired — by challenge matches.
“The chemistry has been really good,” Conway said. “It’s hard when you are put together by playing abilities in doubles and not by chemistry, because a team that works together really well and has chemistry usually will beat a talented team.”
Rabanal was in the No. 3 singles spot when senior Ethan Paulus moved up to No. 2 singles, that bumped Rabanal down to No. 1 doubles. This is Hanaway’s third year on No. 1 doubles, and he prefers it because of its team aspect and opportunities to volley.
But the two are a ruthless match for opponents: both are lefties.
“Because we’re both lefties, people don’t like our serve because it spins the other way,” Rabanal said.
That’s if they stay healthy. Hanaway missed the state tournament last year with a broken ankle and Rabanal got ten stitches in his hand last week, so he played with a one-handed backhand against tougher opponents.
Rabanal has been to state twice on the No. 4 and No. 3 doubles teams, skipping the No. 2 spot.
“Now, I want to make it as No. 1.” Rabanal said.
Freshman Andy Schuiling is also vying for a state appearance at No. 1 singles. His only loss so far this season is a familiar opponent outside of school, Morgan Schilling, who plays for Regis Jesuit, a 5A school.
Schuiling has yet to lose to a 4A competitor.
“Andy, ability-wise, is toe-to-toe with Morgan,” Conway said. “Even with the loss to Morgan, he found what he could do, really drove the ball well and startled Morgan with some of the shots he hit.”
Schuiling said his trouble comes with the return. He plays against powerful servers, which aren’t necessarily around at practice.
“I kind of just have to like adapt to it during the match and it takes me a while,” Schuiling said. “So I can’t really get in the groove of the match until later on. I’m working with my coaches on getting better.”
That includes working on a wider base for a better shot, rather than standing up straight and slapping a return.
Although Schuiling is used to the competitive, individual aspect of the sport, he’s embraced the team aspect of playing high school tennis.
“It’s a lot easier here,” Schuiling said. “You travel with the team and it’s a lot easier to get to know everyone.”
But each practice starts with Conway asking if anyone would like to challenge for a new spot, and today, senior No. 3 singles Roy Lundeen challenged Ethan Paulus for the spot at No. 2 singles. To earn the spot, Lundeen has to beat Ethan two out of three matches to prove the first isn’t just luck.
It’s the final week for challenge matches, since Steamboat Springs will head to regionals the last week of September.
“To this team’s credit, they are a team,” Conway said. “I’m very proud of how they fill in for each other. They stick up for each other. They help each other out.”
Steamboat Springs tennis will host Evergreen at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14 and Fruita Monument at noon Saturday, Sept. 15.
- Steamboat Springs boys soccer (4-0) defeated Eagle Valley (0-4) 8-3 on Tuesday, Sept. 11. The Devils grabbed the first goal, but senior Sailor Murphy Bohlmann scored three to tally a 3-1 lead. Junior Alfredo Perez extended the lead to 4-1 before the Devils scored again to make it 4-2. Sophomore Colter Gansman followed with his first varsity goal to extend a Sailors’ halftime lead 5-2. The Sailors capitalized on an own-goal by the Devils before senior Quinn Connell finished it off with two goals for an 8-3 final. With the win, the Sailors move to No. 2 in the Western Slope league standings behind Battle Mountain (5-1). Steamboat is also listed as No. 4 in the Class 4A rankings as of Sept. 10. Steamboat travels to Rifle (1-2) at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 15.
- Steamboat Springs volleyball (4-5) hosts its first league match against Eagle Valley (5-2) today at 6 p.m. The Sailors are coming off a 1-3 performance at the Silver Creek tournament. Senior Anna Allsberry leads the team with 44 kills on a 34.4-percent efficiency this season. Junior Katelyn Kline heads the defense with 34 digs and senior setter Abi Berlet has 79 assists.
- The Steamboat Springs boys golf team travels to its final regular-season tournament today at Keystone Ranch Golf Club. The Sailors will travel to the Class 3A regional tournament at Indian Peaks Golf Course in Lafayette on Monday, Sept. 18.
- The Steamboat Springs cross country team will compete in Eagle Valley on Saturday. The girls’ team placed fourth overall at the 41st Liberty Bell last weekend behind strong performances by Maggi Congdon, Winter Boesce and Isabelle Boniface. Sumner Cotton has been consistently leading the pack on the boys’ side.
- Steamboat Springs football (1-2) hosts Middle Park (1-1) at 4 p.m. on the middle school fields on Friday, Sept. 14. The Sailors are looking to add another win this season after a fourth-quarter loss to Cedaredge and failing to come back against Moffat County last week.
- Soroco football (3-0) is off on a BYE week this weekend. Senior Jace Logan currently leads Class A 8-man with a state’s best 699 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. According to the latest RPI standings, which were released Sept. 12, Soroco is No. 16 in the state for Class A 8-man football. The Rams will return to action at Gilpin County on Sept. 22.
- Soroco volleyball (4-4) hosts Caprock Academy (1-7) today at 4:30 p.m. The Rams are hoping to move toward a winning record.
- Soroco cross country enjoyed a sixth overall team placing on the girls’ side at last week’s class 2A and 3A meet in Saint Vrain. Chloe Veilleux led the pack with a first-place time of 19 minutes and 53 seconds. Both the boys and girls teams will travel to Granby for the Middle Park meet on Saturday, Sept. 15.
- Hayden football (1-1) will host Gilpin County (0-3) at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14.
- The Hayden volleyball team (4-2) travels to Meeker today at 4 p.m. The Tigers will return to action at home against Vail Mountain (3-2) at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14.
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