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Second to none

Sailors tennis team captures 4th regional title

Christine Metz

— Even for a team that previously had won three regional championships, Thursday was a day of firsts for the high school boys tennis squad as it captured its fourth title, sweeping all seven spots on its way to state.

Not only did the 11-1 Sailors leave the regional tournament in Grand Junction undefeated in match play, they did not lose a game during the entire two-day tournament.

“I was really pleased to see these guys really come together and win all seven places in the tournament,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said. “It was a goal they wanted.”

Steamboat won the tournament with a score of 84, Montrose came in second at 57 and Aspen and Hotchkiss tied for third with 27 points.

All but two of the Sailors began play Thursday morning in the tournament’s semifinal round and continued on to the final round in the afternoon. No. 2 singles Joe Cutler and the No. 2 doubles team of Danny Martin and Matt Mooney did not receive a bye and finished the tournament with three wins.

Coming into the match, Aragon believed his team had the potential to take all seven players to state. But after 20 years of coaching the high school team, he knew that the regional tournament could offer some unexpected twists.

“I thought we did have potential (to take all seven spots). But, something could go wrong somewhere or someone could come in and step up to play, but these guys refused to let that happen,” Aragon said.

At the No. 1 singles spot, Rich Tifft remained in solid position to enter the state tournament as he beat Montrose’s Nate Balk 6-1, 6-0 for the regional title. Cutler followed by beating Aspen’s Andy Trautner 6-2, 6-2.

Carter Allen took first in No. 3 singles by beating out Montrose’s Mike Smith.

In the doubles competition, it was Jeff Aragon and David Upbin who finished first at the No. 1 spot by defeating Hotchkiss’ Cory Myrtle and Eloi Celis, 6-2, 6-2.

Martin and Mooney won the team’s closest match at the No. 2 spot, coach Aragon said.

The No. 3 doubles team of Andrew Krueger and Matt Ramsey did not let Montrose’s Neil Erickson and Nick Web score a point as they won 6-0, 6-0.

Patrick Ayres and Jonathan Soloman captured first at No. 4 doubles in the finals match against Montrose’s Billy Erickson and Joel Weiss, winning 6-0, 6-1.

After Thursday’s results, all of the Sailors will be traveling to Pueblo next weekend for the state tournament.

Coach Aragon thinks his team has a good chance of a few state champions or at least state placers. But the drawing to set up the tournament’s bracket will play a big role in how the Sailors finish their season, he said.


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