Sailors tennis finishes strong in final home match
Steamboat Springs — By noon Saturday, Steamboat Springs High School tennis players and their coach all echoed the same sentiment during their final three-way match of the regular season.
Night and day, they all said.
The Sailors’ morning match pinned Steamboat against Kent Denver, one of the top programs in the state boasting a handful of nationally ranked players. In all three singles matches and all four doubles matches, Kent Denver won in straight sets.
Steamboat No. 1 singles player Corbin Diehl, a senior, took on David Mitchell, the 20th-ranked player in the country, Sailors head coach Don Toy said. Not far away, in the No. 2 singles match, Troy DeJong, of Steamboat, took on a top-50 player in the country.
Toy liked his team’s competitive approach and took a positive outlook from the rough outing.
“If you can compete against good players, pretty soon you get better,” Toy said. “But it’s up to you. If you don’t compete, it can be fruitless sometimes.”
Diehl fell to Mitchell, 6-2, 6-1, and DeJong lost to Willie Gold, 6-0, 6-0. In the No. 3 singles match, Steamboat’s Ben Wharton fell to Kent Denver’s Casey Ross, 6-0, 6-0.
In the No. 1 doubles match, Quinn Cain and Zach Dunklin, of Steamboat, lost to the Ryan Beyer and Kevin Adams duo, 6-2, 6-2.
Toy particularly was impressed with how Cain and Dunklin handled their match and what the experienced team was able to take away from the talent it faced.
“Obviously, they’re a top team, but we always try to learn something,” Toy said. “Specifically, Quinn and Zach, our No. 1 doubles, they can see across the net what they should be doing better.”
With the rough outing against Kent Denver wrapped up by 11 a.m., Steamboat set its focus on the second half of the day and its match with Evergreen.
“The matches were complete opposite,” said senior Ben Wharton, who easily handled his Evergreen opponent, 6-0, 6-1.
Like Wharton, the rest of the Sailors turned an 0-7 start to the day into a 7-0 finish. Diehl won, 6-1, 6-4, and DeJong cruised to a 7-6, 6-2 victory in singles play.
In doubles play, Cain and Dunklin took the No. 1 match, 6-4, 6-1. All Sailors seniors on hand closed out their Steamboat regular-season careers in style.
“It was a good home finisher,” Diehl said. “It’s weird. I’m going to definitely miss it.”
In other doubles action, Steamboat’s Nick Matheus and Charlie Smith won the No. 2 match, 6-0, 6-3. Joe Borgerding and Mathew White dominated to a 6-0, 6-0 win in the No. 3 doubles match, and the Nick Sear-Peter Wharton combo pulled out a win in three sets in the No. 4 match.
“They’re great kids, really fun,” Toy said about his seniors. “They get along very well. It’s just funny how they call came together. They stick together.”
Saturday was Steamboat’s final tune-up of the season before the team heads to regional competition Thursday in Grand Junction. Toy said the Sailors figure to face their toughest competition against Aspen as they vie for state championship spots.
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