State-minded Sailors tennis readying for only home matches |

State-minded Sailors tennis readying for only home matches

— In just about everything the Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team does, it operates with end-of-the-season aspirations in mind.

In a time where sports across all age levels prefer a one-step-at-a-time approach, the Sailors aren’t scared to throw in the words like “regionals” and “state,” although the season is only about midway through.

As Steamboat coach John Aragon puts it, among his emerging team that’s loaded with talent, nothing is done without the idea of what the end result will look like.

“Every time they come to the courts, they have to practice and play with a purpose,” Aragon said. “Then they have to have a goal. If they can work each day on the things they don’t do well, if they can get the confidence that they belong in the state tournament, that will be big.”

Now halfway through the regular-season schedule, the Sailors are well traveled. They’ve competed in Grand Junction and put in their matches against Front Range powers, and now they’re finally coming home for the first and last time in 2015.

On Friday afternoon, Steamboat will play host to Vail, then turn around and compete on Saturday against Class 5A Lakewood, which placed in the top 10 at last spring’s state championships. There won’t be another chance for the Sailors to perform in front of their family and friends at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs this year.

“I’m excited because it’s our only home match,” senior No. 1 doubles player Hanna Haggarty said during Wednesday’s practice. “We just don’t get this opportunity very often, and that’s especially true this season.”

Even rarer for Steamboat is the chance to play at home and play outside. Steamboat spent part of Wednesday’s practice prepping the Tennis Center’s outdoor courts, which are almost always still off limits this time of the year.

What’s more is Steamboat has played all of its competitions outdoors this season, and any matches under the natural elements helps toward readying players for state, which is exclusively outdoors in Pueblo in May. It’s just another example of the Sailors’ forward-thinking thought process as postseason matches approach.

“It’s been a good thing we’ve been outdoors a little bit this season,” Aragon said. “This will be a big plus for us to get some outdoor matches before we hit regionals and state.”

After battling without its top player last weekend, Steamboat’s No. 1 singles competitor Tatum Burger will be back on court this weekend. Behind her will be sophomore twins Maddie and Emmie Thompson, who will be the Sailors’ No. 2 and No. 3 singles players, respectively.

Steamboat was mostly carried by its doubles play last weekend in tough matches at Fossil Ridge and Thompson Valley. Haggarty and Labor make up Steamboat’s No. 1 doubles pair, while juniors Sydney Boyd and Sabina Berend headline the No. 2 doubles slots.

The Sailors sport two freshman-senior pairs at No. 3 and No. 4 doubles. The No. 3 squad is made up of Shae Burger, a newcomer, and Norma Techarukpong. The No. 4 team consists of Shannon Ross, a senior, and freshman Annika Fahrner.

“I think we have a super strong team, especially on a personal level,” Haggarty said. “Upperclassmen and underclassmen, we’ve all become really close. It’s been really cool to be a part of.”

Friday’s matches against Vail begin at 4 p.m., and Saturday’s against Lakewood start at 9 a.m.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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