Sailors No. 2 doubles team battles through two tiebreakers Saturday

Steamboat Springs High School tennis player Kyle Saunders reaches to return the ball at the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center on Saturday.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Kyle Saunders and Caleb Groemmeck had a long day, ending both their matches with tiebreakers. 

The No. 2 doubles pair for the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team started Saturday with a thrilling victory over Vail Christian and ended with a nail-biter against Aspen at home at the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center. 

It took nearly two games to settle into the opening set, but soon enough it was tied 3-3. The Sailors won the next two to take a 5-3 lead. They relinquished one more game to the Skiers before winning 6-4. 

Aspen tied the match at a set each with a 6-2 victory, forcing a tiebreaker, the Sailors’ second of the day. 

“I think they were going for less conservative shots (in the first set),” said Groemmeck. “In the second set, they were keeping it more high percentage and tighter.”

The teams exchanged points, until the Skiers picked up two straight to take a 9-7 lead. After a few safe volleys, an Aspen player aimed the ball for the far corner. Saunders tried to chase it down, but the ball bounced inbounds and away from the sprinting Sailor, giving Aspen the win. 

“They are better players than us,” said Saunders. “They just tightened up their game.”

Groemmeck and Saunders were on the winning side of the tiebreaker against Vail Christian earlier in the day. They dropped the first set 6-4, but managed to come away with a 7-5 victory in the second. The Sailors carried momentum into the tiebreaker, coming out on top 10-8. 

What the pairing didn’t know was the win at No. 2 doubles, granted Steamboat Springs the 4-3 victory over Vail Christian.

“I was definitely holding my breath and pacing a little bit,” said Steamboat Springs head coach Eliot Guin. “We lost that first set pretty bad. The second set, started putting pressure on them and carried that into the tiebreaker. … They also didn’t know they were playing for the match (win), which I wanted to keep it that way.”

Junior Nash Whittington won in straight sets at No. 1 singles, and the sophomore duo of Gabe Gray and Xander Dalke won 6-2, 6-3 at No. 1 doubles. Newcomers and No. 4 doubles pairing Axel Kovash and Luke St. John eked out a 6-4, 6-4 victory as well.

The victory over Vail Christian was huge since a few weeks ago, Vail Christian won 6-1 over the Sailors at home.

“We kind of had our sights set on them after we’ve had a few changes in the lineup,” said Guin. “We know that we’re a strong team. Most of the season we’re talking about getting back at Vail.”

Securing a bit of revenge was an exciting confidence boost for Steamboat, but the matches against Aspen were a far greater representation of what the competition at regionals and even state would look like.

The Sailors struggled to keep up with the Skiers, who won 7-0. Most matches were quick, with Aspen winning handily in straight sets. The doubles matches were a little closer. Gray and Dalke succumbed to their Skier opponents 6-1 in the first set, but put up more of a fight in the second. Aspen ended up winning 6-3, but the games were much closer and the set more drawn out.

The No. 3 pair of St. John and Eli Ince turned a 4-1 deficit into a closer, 6-4 loss, showing tenacity in their loss to Aspen. 

Saturday, Sept. 12
Aspen 7, Steamboat Springs 0

Singles: 1. Christian Kelly, A, def. Nash Whittington, SS, 6-0, 6-1. 2. Alex Mosher, A, def. Beck Myklusch, SS, 6-2, 6-1. 3. Chase Kelley, A, def. Dylan Dietrich, SS, 6-0, 6-1. 
Doubles: 1. Luker Tralins and Bryce Coress-Pierce, A, def. Gabe Gray and Xander Dalke, SS, 6-1, 6-3. 2. Josh Ward and Dyer Hunting, A, def. Kyle Saunders and Caleb Groemmeck, SS, 4-6, 6-2, 10-7. 3. Quinn McKie and Mickey Ward, A, def. Luke St. John and Eli Ince, SS, 6-1, 6-4. 4. Alex Schlosser and Sebastian Pediniecci, A, def. Jaxson Fryer and Axel Kovash, 6-1, 6-1. 

Steamboat Springs 4, Vail Christian 3
Singles: 1. Whittington, SS, def. Leo Yang, VC, 6-2, 6-0. 2. Nate Nabonsal, VC, def. Myklusch, SS, 7-6, 6-1. 3. Kai Otsuki, VC, def. Dietrich, SS, 6-0, 6-0.
Doubles: 1. Gray and Dalke, SS, def. Langley Cerovich and Elliot Jarnot, VC, 6-2, 6-3. 2. Saunders and Groemmeck, SS, def. Matthew Gay and Alex Nabonsal, VC, 4-6, 7-5, 10-8. 3. Patrick Lentz and Hudson Strauss, VC, def. Ince and Fryer, SS, 6-1, 6-1. 4. Kovash and St. John, SS, def. Jaden Webster and Jacob Novak, VC, 6-4, 6-4. 

Saturday, Sept. 5
Steamboat Springs 5, Mountain View 2
Singles: 1. Whittington, L, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. 2. Myklusch, W, 6-2, 6-4. 3. Dietrich, L, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6. 
Doubles: 1. Gray and Dalke, W, 6-3, 6-0. 2. Saunders and Groemmeck, W, default. 3. Ince and St. John, W, default. 4. Kovach and Cameron Daly, W, default. 

Loveland 7, Steamboat Springs 0
Singles: 1. Whittington, L, 6-1, 7-6. 2. Myklusch, L, 6-2, 6-4. 3. Dietrich, L, 6-1, 6-0. 
Doubles: 1. Gray and Dalke, L, 6-4, 7-6. 2. Saunders and Groemmeck, L, 6-3, 6-1. 3. Ince and St. John, L, 6-2, 601. 4. Kovach and Daly, L, 6-1, 6-3. 

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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