‘Nothing to lose:’ Steamboat girls tennis to send 5 lines to state | SteamboatToday.com

‘Nothing to lose:’ Steamboat girls tennis to send 5 lines to state

Steamboat Springs girls tennis freshman Lucia del Haya has high expectations of herself heading into the state tournament in Colorado Springs on Friday, May 12, 2023. At just 14 years old, del Haya has been a staple in the win column for the Sailors all season long.
David Dietrich/Courtesy photo

Five lines on Steamboat Springs girls tennis have advanced to the Colorado High School Activities Association 3A girls tennis individual state tournament in Colorado Springs on Friday, May 12, and Saturday, May 13. 

Last season, the Sailors struggled to fill out the roster, but with the addition of key newcomers and the guidance of veteran players, Steamboat is poised to make a statement on the court at a statewide scale. 

Coach Bill Conway said it’s the most girls he has seen headed to the championships in some time.

Juniors Evan Quinn and Kelsey Norland have been leaders for the team this season, but with adjustments to the roster, they have had to acclimate to a whole new game. 

Quinn and Norland played their previous two high school seasons as singles players, but in 2023 were paired up to take over as the No. 1 doubles team for Steamboat. They both admit it took some time to adjust but have found a new love and passion for the game they never knew existed. 

“There is a lot of pressure with singles, I would say, and it is nice to have someone to pull you out of your head and talk to,” Norland said. “Sometimes singles can get a little isolating, so it is nice to have a partner now.”

Quinn relies on Norland to keep her levelheaded during matches and vice versa. It is a pairing that simply works.

The Steamboat girls tennis No. 1 doubles team of juniors Kelsey Norland and Evan Quinn have had to adjust to playing doubles but reached the state championship following a second-place finish at the regional tournament on Friday, May 5, 2023.
David Dietrich/Courtesy photo

Quinn was the lone Steamboat player to reach the state championship two years ago. She remembers the intimidation of being a freshman at a major competition and as the only Sailor with state experience, she has been offering guidance to her teammates.

“The best advice I can give, especially for the younger kids and for us, is be proud of where you have come,” Quinn said. “You have nothing to lose, you made it to state, you are here, and this is what we worked towards. Hit out, be yourself and play your game.”

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Freshman Lucia del Haya will need to heed the advice of Quinn and other more experienced teammates leading up to the tournament. 

At just 14 years old, del Haya slotted into her role at No. 1 singles and has been a menace on the court all season. She says the upperclassmen have been so welcoming and taught her so much about the game, but more importantly have helped her become a better person. 

The Sailor’s greatest strengths this season have been utilizing her strong backhand and remaining mentally tough and present in matches. She looks to get more consistent with serves and forehands leading up to state. 

“Of course there is a little bit of nervousness and a little bit of nerves,” del Haya said. “I think that I trust how much I have trained and how hard I have trained that I know I can accomplish many things. If I really put my mind to it and try really hard, I will be able to do it.”

What has made del Haya so dangerous this season is her ability to break down an opponent before and during a match to learn weaknesses and exploit them in competition.

She gives a lot of credit for her success to Conway who has given her the tools for victory all season long. She expects big things from the state tournament but mostly wants to let loose, be herself and continue to do what she loves. 

“My goal since I started hitting with Bill was to make it far,” del Haya said. “I said I wanted to be No. 1 singles as a freshman and potentially try to win states to put my name out there. When people see on the roster that I’m a freshman, they underestimate me, which is all fun and games until I step on court.”

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