Sailors dig deep for 13th title |

Sailors dig deep for 13th title

— Winning the regional tournament is nothing new to the Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team, but doing it like it did Friday was something else.

In one sense, the Sailors were as dominant as they’ve ever been. The entire team is going to the state tournament, yet again, and six of the team’s seven entires will be doing so as regional champions.

Coach John Aragon said it was anything but a foregone conclusion, however. His team had to dig as deep as it has in recent years for the achievement.

“They wanted it more than anyone else,” he said, “and they worked hard enough to achieve that.”

There were tales of big comebacks, clutch points and excellent play up and down the lineup.

Just consider the one Sailor who almost didn’t earn her way to the state tournament, which begins Thursday in Pueblo.

Emmie Thompson lost in the regional championship and had to compete in a playback match to secure her spot. It appeared early she wouldn’t win it as she lost the first set, 6-2. She roared back, however, winning the second 6-4, and the third, 6-2.

“She was determined to win,” Aragon said. “I love to see someone play with that kind of will and heart. She did it because she wanted to make sure she got to go to state with the 10 other girls.”

The No. 2 doubles team of Sydney Boyd and Sabina Berend trailed 5-2 in one set, just a few points from a major headache. They didn’t give up, however, and went on to win the set.

“That’s the best I’ve seen them play all year,” Aragon said. “They did that against an unbelievable doubles team, too, a team that was undefeated all year. I’ve never seen them play at that level.”

It was that kind of day for the Sailors, who won their regional for the 13th consecutive season.

Steamboat also got a regional championship from Tatum Burger, at No. 1 singles, who did what she’s done all year, keeping her perfect record intact as she waltzed to the state tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 win in the regional finals against Montrose’s Alyssa Arellano. Aragon said it wasn’t that easy, though. 
“Her opponent scored a lot of points, but Tatum just would not let her get any game winners,” he said.

She was joined on the championship podium by Maddie Thompson at No. 2 singles, Maddie Labor and Hanna Haggarty at No. 1 doubles, Norma Techarukpong and Shae Burger at No. 3 doubles and Annika Fahrner and Shannon Ross at No. 4 doubles.

It all added up to another big regional championship win. Steamboat finished with 94 points, well ahead of Montrose’s 67.

“These girls, they wanted to be 11 deep at state,” Aragon said. “Everyone came out, and they had to do their job, had to play like they’re playing for the team, and they did. They were definitely 11 deep this weekend.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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