Sailors take a lot of experience to state tennis tournament |

Sailors take a lot of experience to state tennis tournament

Steamboat Springs High School senior Matt White returns a serve in his doubles match against Vail on Sept. 11 outside The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.
Austin Colbert

Thursday's First Round Matchups

Matches start at 9 a.m. in Pueblo

No. 2 singles: Charlie Smith, SSHS, vs. Matt Chavez, Niwot

No. 3 singles: Chase Adams, SSHS, vs. Allen Fu, Niwot

No. 1 doubles: White/Borgerding, SSHS, vs. Murray/Sanders, D'Evelyn

No. 2 doubles: Paulus/Lynch, SSHS, vs. MacGuire/Reeder, Air Academy

No. 3 doubles: Connell/Fox-Welch, SSHS, vs. Bosch/Torgler, Evergreen

No. 4 doubles: Bender/Wharton, SSHS, vs. Fischer/Joe, Windsor

— Steamboat Springs High School boys’ tennis coach Jack Burger still remembers the feeling of playing in a state tournament.

“The state atmosphere is unlike anything you see the rest of the season,” said Burger, a 2011 SSHS graduate. “Tons of teams, tons of families, tons of parents out there and fans supporting, so it’s way different than anything else.”

Burger, who played collegiately at Colorado College before returning to Steamboat to lead the Sailors this fall, has guided 10 players to this year’s Class 4A state tournament, which begins Thursday morning at the Pueblo City Park.

The last time SSHS finished in the top six was fall 2010, when Burger was a senior. That season, he took fourth at No. 3 singles, and his twin brother, Keegan, took fourth at No. 1 singles. While top six might be a stretch for this year’s squad, it’s not out of the question, considering the team’s experience.

Last season, the Sailors tied for 11th as a team, with Kent Denver winning the 4A championship.

“I think we are definitely in the mix for a top 10, for sure. I think that’s a good goal to have,” Burger said. “I think a lot of them have pretty hard draws. But they really got nothing to lose. So they are going to go out there and work really hard and see if we can pick up some big wins.”

Of the 10 SSHS players competing at state this season, eight also competed for the Sailors at state last year. The two not included on that list are players who weren’t part of the program last year: Chatfield transfer Chase Adams, a junior at No. 2 singles, and freshman Ethan Paulus, part of the No. 2 doubles team with junior Max Lynch.

This year’s No. 2 singles player, junior Charlie Smith, made the state quarterfinals in 2014 at No. 3 singles. Also making quarters last year was the No. 1 doubles team of Matt White and Joe Borgerding, the lone seniors on the team this season and easily the most experienced.

“Experience definitely helps, and we have a lot of experience,” Burger said. “Every year that you go down there, you know the competition that is going to be there, and each year, you learn more about what you have to do.”

Also competing at state this week for SSHS are juniors Nolan Connell and River Fox-Welch, the No. 3 doubles team, and juniors Jack Bender and Peter Wharton, the No. 4 doubles team, all returning state qualifiers from a year ago.

“I’m really excited with how the team ended up this year and the work they put in,” Burger said. “Top 10 in the state would be sweet. But to be honest with you, I don’t really know the competition. No matter what, we’ll just play one match at a time. I just want them to work really hard.”

Play begins at 9 a.m. Thursday in Pueblo with the first two rounds. The semifinals and playback rounds will be played Friday, with the third, fourth and finals matches taking place Saturday morning.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

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