Sailors set for state, finally
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team made the most of an opportunity it didn’t expect, or even really want.
The Class 4A state tennis tournament was scheduled to begin Thursday in Pueblo but was postponed early last week in the face of a dark weather forecast that called for persistent showers throughout the area all weekend.
Now, the team is ready again, beginning play Monday morning in the state tournament.
“We used the time to practice. It was fun and productive, but you could tell the girls would have rather been playing at state,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said. “It’s been a long four days of waiting.”
Once the tournament does begin, the squad will have its hands full.
Steamboat has seven entries in the tournament, its entire varsity team — including all three singles players — and the four doubles teams. Each will compete in a bracket with 16 other entries, opening at 9 a.m. Monday with the first round.
The quarterfinals follow in the afternoon, then the semifinals Tuesday morning and, finally, the championship finals Wednesday morning. Filling in the gaps Tuesday will be consolation play, but it’s only limited to a few teams — those teams and players that lost to a team that goes on to make it to the championship match.
That means only two entries of the eight that will lose in the first round of each bracket will make it back in.
Translated: if you’re going to lose, it had better be to one of the best, otherwise the tournament will be over soon after it begins.
“The first round will be critical,” Aragon said. “Looking at our draws, we’re matched up against solid programs from across the state. They can’t get out to a slow start. They have to be ready to play, because anyone who loses in that first round, their season will probably be over.”
Who from the Sailors is able to advance will depend on which players answer that bell. There are a couple good options.
The list starts with Tatum Burger, the freshman sensation who’s dominated in the team’s toughest spot, No. 1 singles. She’s undefeated on the year and enters the tournament with a great chance to drive to the final day and compete for a medal.
“For a freshman, what she’s already done has been amazing,” Aragon said. “It’s really a weighted draw, but if she’s playing her game and plays like she has been, she has a great chance.”
Another of the Sailors’ top contenders is the No. 1 doubles team of Maddie Labor and Hanna Haggarty.
“If they show up and we play with our athleticism and go after shots, they’re good enough to make the final day,” Aragon said.
Steamboat will have 11 players in action. Maddie Thompson will play No. 2 singles and Emmie Thompson in the No. 3 singles spot. Sydney Boyd and Sabina Berend will play at No. 2 doubles, Norma Techarukpong and Shae Burger at No. 3 doubles and Annika Fahrner and Shannon Ross at No 4 doubles.
They’ve waited. Now they have the chance to see where they stack up in the state.
“I love the state tournament,” Aragon said. “It’s always a fun and competitive challenge. I hope our athletes feel the same about coming down here to play without fear. They’re looking to have some fun.”
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