Sailors to face Evergreen as team returns to Tennis Center
Steamboat Springs — The chance to play at home is something the Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis team hasn’t enjoyed much this season, and head coach Joseph O’Dell said Saturday’s first home appearance since Sept. 3 could not come at a better time.
“I’m happy to be home, and I’m looking forward to getting back in front of our fans, back in front of our parents,” O’Dell said. “Honestly, we didn’t play very well in our match against Aspen, and it would be nice to bounce back from that match.”
For Evergreen and head coach Kris Nielsen, the chance to travel to Steamboat Springs for a match is something that she and her players look forward to every season.
“I’ve been onboard for the last five or six years, and we’ve always come to Steamboat to play,” she said. “We make it an overnight trip, and it’s a real team bonding experience. Plus, they have a great program up there, and it’s always a competitive match.”
The Sailors are 3-1 for the season and 2-1 in league play after losing a tough 5-2 match against Aspen and handling Vail Mountain 7-0 during a triangular meet Tuesday evening.
Aspen’s win over Steamboat gives the Skiers the upper hand at this point of the season and could play a big role when it come to seeding the regional tournament, which will take place Oct. 7 in Grand Junction.
O’Dell said Steamboat will face Aspen, Vail Mountain and Durango in the regional. It appears that both Montrose and Paonia have not fielded teams in Region 8 and will not be a part of the end-of-season tournament that awards spots to the state tournament.
The good news is that Steamboat will have another shot at both Aspen and Vail Mountain early next week. The same three squads will meet in Vail on Tuesday evening in the final head-to-head matches between the teams this season.
“I think we could have played a lot better against Aspen,” O’Dell said. “But I’m going to chalk it up to a bad day — Aspen played great, and all of their players were spot on. But I didn’t feel like we played our best tennis.”
Before Steamboat starts thinking about a rematch with league-leading Aspen, the squad will have to face a solid Evergreen team. The match is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Evergreen comes to Steamboat with a 5-1 record and is coming off big wins over Wheat Ridge (7-0) and Golden (7-0).
The team features six seniors including No. 1 singles player Ryan Lahr and No. 2 singles player Dylan Stump. The team also has seniors at No. 2 doubles with Teddy Evans and John Woodward and at No. 4 doubles with Jack Cuntz and Blake Kusava.
Junior Tyler Weiand will play at No. 3 singles, and juniors Gus Bosch and Jack Torgler will represent the Cougars at No. 1 doubles. Another junior Jack Dubious will join sophomore Will Woodward playing No. 3 doubles for the visitors.
“We have a pretty strong team this year,” Neilsen said. “When we look for opponents outside our region, we pick teams that provide a challenge. Easy matches don’t benefit anybody, and Steamboat provides a challenge.”
O’Dell admits that he doesn’t know much about Evergreen, but after looking at the team’s record, he is expecting a good test.
“We have opened the season well and have been improving with every match,” O’Dell said.
Steamboat will be led by senior Charlie Smith, who is 3-0 this season in matches, at No.1 singles, Chase Adams playing at No. 2 and Nolan Connell filling the final singles spot.
Steamboat will have Max Lynch and Ethan Paulus at No. 1 doubles, River Fox-Welch and Wyatt Stempel at No. 2 doubles and Peter Wharton and Jack Bender at No. 3. The coach said he will make a decision after practice this week on which players will fill in the No. 4 spots.
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