Sailors tennis shows improvements at home |

Sailors tennis shows improvements at home

Steamboat Springs senior Matheus Mercuri keeps the ball in play in a match against Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins), on Saturday, Sept. 14.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Nash Whittington was feeling it. 

The young Steamboat Springs tennis player took an early lead in the second set over his opponent from Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins. He used well-placed hits to outlast the Lobo, winning the second set 6-3, tying the match at one.

However, in the tiebreaker, things started to fall apart, granting him a loss, albeit a competitive one.

That seemed to be the theme of the day, as the Sailors fell to Rocky Mountain 7-0 from The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs on Saturday, Sept. 14.

“I didn’t really change that much,” Whittington said. “The other kid was just hitting more double faults. That’s really what helped out a lot in the second one.”

Serves were a struggle for Whittington. His opponent had a strong first serve that blew by Whittington.

The Sailor had troubles as well, repeatedly hitting the top of the net. The pattern led to him pulling his punches a bit, and his opponent reaped the benefits, winning the tiebreaker.

“That’s just a confidence issue. Most of the players there’s one thing, like a serve, or a forehand, where the second that goes away, we get nervous and we back out and start pulling out,” Steamboat Springs head coach Bill Conway said. “In this sport, you can’t fix the past. That’s done, you throw it away. How can I keep that confidence and strength moving forward? That’s what Nash needed.”

Steamboat Springs tennis

Aug. 22: at Grand Junction
Aug. 23-24: at Fruita-Monument
Aug. 30: at Loveland
Sept. 5-7: at Grand Junction
Sept. 14: vs. Rocky Mountain, 11 a.m.
Sept. 21: vs. Fruita Monument, 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 25: at Basalt
Oct. 1: at Aspen
Oct. 5: vs. Kent Denver, 10 a.m.

The No. 2 doubles pairing of freshmen Gabriel Gray and Xander Dalke competed in the closest doubles match of the day. They lost the first set 6-3 and stayed one behind in the second. They tied it up at four, but the Lobos pairing pulled ahead for the 6-4 win. 

Conway said he was very impressed with how the pair held themselves throughout the match. 

“It was a high five between scores, it was ‘We’ve got this,’ ‘We can do this.’ There was never a way they were out of the match,” Conway said. “I talk to them all the time, walk strong, shoulders back, head up. Don’t walk defeated and that impressed me the most.”

Steamboat Springs freshman Eli Ince returns a serve in a match against Rocky Mountain (Fort Collins), on Saturday, Sept. 14.
Shelby Reardon

Gray and Dalke didn’t feel like they were very out of it and said a few skills helped them stay competitive.

“I feel like we both had really good serves. We were acing them consistently,” Gray said. “I thought our service game was pretty good.”

“Up at the net, putting away balls,” Dalke added.

The two admitted they lacked consistency, though, which is what did them in.

No. 1 singles player, senior Wyatt Stempel fought hard in his match, falling 6-4, 6-3. 

While being at home put an end to the travel-heavy start of the season, it did pose as a distraction, though. 

“We’re at the point now where our skill set is catching up to the groups we’re playing,” Conway said. “How do we find a focus level that changes the score to represent how we play. That focus level and that intensity, it can’t be something that’s demanded, it has to be something that’s cultivated.”

Rocky Mountain High 7, Steamboat High 0

Singles: 1, Wyatt Stempel L 6-4. 6-3. 2, Matheus Mercuri, L 6-0, 6-1. 3, Nash Whittington L 7-5, 3-6, 10-8. 
Doubles: 1, Kyle Saunders and Dylan Dietrich L 6-0, 6-1. 2, Xander Dalke and Gabe Gray 6-3, 6-4. 3, Eli Ince and Joey Westmeyer L 6-2, 6-1. 4, Bryce Watson and Michael Lake L 6-0, 6-1.

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