Steamboat girls tennis fills roster, gears up for season opener
Steamboat Springs girls tennis could not even field a full team last season. It had just nine girls for 11 roster sports, but still maintained a winning record through the spring.
This season, with a team of 14, head coach Bill Conway expects big things from his athletes.
The team is pretty young and has just one senior on the roster, but Conway says he has five freshman girls who are already tournament ready. These girls had been playing in the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center’s junior program for three years.
“The junior program is finally catching up with the high school team,” Conway said. “So instead of having players that don’t know how to play, these freshmen coming in know how to play.”
With a team of so many talented players, Conway constructed a system of challenge matches where the girls go head-to-head during practice to determine their spots on the singles or doubles rosters.
Conway says the results from these head-to-head matches will set the base for the roster and he will make adjustments as he sees fit until rosters are finalized in mid-April.
The team also puts big leadership roles on its two captains every year. Conway’s intention is to have two girls be the voice for teammates who may not otherwise speak up.
“I want a lot out of these players and sometimes players get nervous coming to their coach,” Conway said. “What I want is if a player is nervous talking to me about a practice or something like that, I want them to go to one of those captains.”
Juniors Evan Quinn and Kelsey Norland were voted to take on these positions by their teammates and will represent the Sailors this season.
Conway says the team has an incredible work ethic to this point and foresees great things from this season. He could see multiple girls placing in regionals and even making it to the state tournament in May.
Regardless, Conway’s biggest goal is to see each girl improve throughout the year. The team will get a chance to compete in its first tournament of the season from Thursday, March 9, through Saturday, March 11, in Grand Junction.
This will be a great test to see where the girls stand early in the year and show them what areas they need to improve on for the weeks ahead.
“This is the measuring stick,” Conway said. “We’re going to see where we are and what changes we need to make. There’s 16 teams in this tournament and we’re the only 3A team in it. Everyone else is 4 and 5A.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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