Steamboat competes in State Tennis Championships |

Steamboat competes in State Tennis Championships

— A pair of Steamboat Springs doubles teams provided all the spark and emotion the Sailors needed on the opening day of the 2008 State High School Tennis Tournament at Pueblo City Park on Thursday.

After opening the tournament with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Palmer Ridge, Steamboat moved into a back-and-fourth battle with Greeley West.

“We dominated the first set, but then they started playing,” Charlie Smith said after he and partner Jack Burger beat Greeley West, 6-3, 6-7 (5) and 7-5, in the quarterfinal match to advance to today’s action.

Steamboat’s top doubles team looked as though it would roll into the semifinals after dominating the opening set, 6-3. But Greeley’s Keaton Brown and Jordan Bolton came out swinging in the second set. Greeley took the set in the tiebreaker and set the stage for one of the longest and most contested matches of the day.

“We let our intensity down in the second set, and they came back,” Smith said. “But in the third set, Jack (Burger) brought all the intensity that we needed.”

But it still wasn’t easy.

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Burger and Smith, who is making his second trip to the semifinals in the last two years, had to rally after losing the first two games of the last set.

The Smith-Burger team is one of two Steamboat doubles squads that will advance to today’s semifinal round. The Sailors’ No. 4 team of Vladan Chase and Erik Sortland also won in the opener by moving past Evergreen’s Cameron Sadler and Cam Tucker, 6-0, 6-1. But the team also had to win a thriller to stay alive for a state title.

The team defeated Mullen, 6-4, in the first set, but had to go to a tiebreaker to win the second, and trailed, 6-2, before rallying for the win. Steamboat won the final set, 7-6 (6).

“I’ve been on the sideline when my teammates have gone three sets,” Chase said. “I know anything can happen in that third set. I did not want to go to three sets.”

That team also kept its state title hopes alive and will advance to play Kent Denver in the semifinal rounds.

“I’m excited,” Sortland said. “We just have to go out and play like we want it more than anybody else.”

The two doubles teams highlighted an up and down day for the Sailors. Steamboat’s Jamey Swiggart was the only singles players to win in the first round. Teammate Jeff Lambart had the toughest draw in the No. 3 singles bracket and fell to tournament favorite Frazier Cavness in the first round, 6-0, 6-1. The good news is that if Cavness beats Niwot senior Stephen Lammers in the semifinals, Lambart will be back in the running for third place.

Steamboat’s No. 2 singles player, Keegan Burger, lost a heartbreaking match to Andrew Hefter. After shutting the Niwot junior out in the first set, Keegan Burger fell in the final two games, 6-4 and 7-6 (3). Hefter was beaten in the next round, ending his chances of getting back into the tournament.

Steamboat’s No. 2 and No. 3 doubles teams won in the first round but fell in the second.

The No. 2 team of Alex Gibbs and Mirko Erspamer beat Greeley West’s Chase Yoder and Bo Brynteson in the first round, 6-3, 7-4 (6). In the second round, Kent Denver beat the Steamboat team, 6-1, 6-2.

The Sailor’s No. 3 team of Zach Valicenti and Ben Paley beat Evergreen’s Bryan Repko and Jack Staebell, 6-1, 6-0. But the team fell to Niwot, 6-3, 6-2.

Cheyenne Mountain took the early lead in the team race with 14 points. Mullen and Kent Denver both finished the day with 12 points, and Broomfield is fourth with 10 points. Steamboat is in fifth and hopes to pick up some key wins today and improve its position in the team standings.

Play is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at Pueblo City Park.