Sailor tennis looking ahead to regionals with Aspen, Vail in town Friday
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What: Tennis triangular with Steamboat Springs, Vail Mountain and Aspen
When: Friday, beginning at 10 a.m. with SSHS vs. Vail. Aspen vs. Vail will follow, with SSHS vs. Aspen to finish.
Where: The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Matches will be played both inside and outside.
Steamboat Springs — Jack Burger, the Steamboat Springs High School boys’ tennis coach, remembers fondly what it was like to play in a Sailors’ home match. A 2011 SSHS graduate, Burger will have the chance to re-live some of that excitement Friday, only this time, without a racket in his hand.
“I can’t wait for it, and I hope the guys are just as excited as me,” Burger said. “It’s awesome. I really hope the guys are excited for their first home matches, because it’s a great environment. The whole community is really supportive of the high school team.”
SSHS will get its first chance to show off at home this fall when it hosts Aspen and Vail Mountain on Friday at The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Action gets underway at 10 a.m. with Steamboat vs. Vail. Aspen and Vail will compete in the second match, with Steamboat vs. Aspen finishing play off in the afternoon.
“I think tomorrow will set the stage for regionals quite a bit,” senior Matt White said. “Those are two very important regional matches. I think we can win both matches as a team; we just have to come out with confidence and just try as hard as we can.”
Both Aspen and Vail compete in Steamboat’s Class 4A regional, meaning Friday’s competition could be only a preview of what’s to come. The Sailors took second in their regional last season, falling short of Aspen.
Both Aspen and Steamboat competed in the same tournament earlier this season, but never faced each other on the court. Still, the Sailors were able to watch and believe they’ll have a good chance at topping Aspen this time.
“They are a pretty good team. They are always pretty strong,” Burger said of Aspen. “I know they have a good one singles player. Other than that, I really think we can take the win this year against Aspen.”
Steamboat, in its first season under Burger, is off to a hot start. The Sailors were very successful in their two early season tournaments, and won both their matches. The most recent win came Wednesday, a 6-1 victory over Air Academy in Keystone. SSHS was challenged, with three matches going to a third set, but was able to win each en route to another impressive team victory.
“Jack brings a lot of energy to the team,” White said. “All the kids are really excited. That’s huge if you are excited to play. You will do your best, most likely.”
White and fellow senior Joe Borgerding make up the Sailor’s No. 1 doubles team, their second year together in that spot. The duo brings a lot of experience to SSHS, having played together for three seasons. They advanced to the state quarterfinals last season, before losing to the eventual runners-up.
This season, they are hoping for more, and beating Aspen in regionals is at the top of their list.
“I know there are some kids on the team, especially some freshmen, that are more skilled, individually,” White said. “But when Joe and I are together playing doubles, the experience kind of outweighs a lot of skill.”
“We’ve got some goals for sure,” he added. “Like, one of our goals is to win regional and beat Aspen. There are some really good teams at state, but I know we can do well.”
The Sailors will host a match only once more this season after Friday, when defending 4A state champion Kent Denver visits the Yampa Valley on Sept. 26. Steamboat’s regional takes place Oct. 8 and 9 in Grand Junction.
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Beginning with the 2021-22 season, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. will be eliminating single-use plastic bottles on the mountain.