Steamboat Red tennis team takes state title
Steamboat Springs — Don’t call the 10 women on the Hawaiian skirt-clad Steamboat Red tennis team “over the hill.”
Although most of them have been playing in the United States Tennis Association’s adult league for the past four years, they’ve never been able to make it further than the semifinals in statewide competition.
But with a few members having just turned 50, they entered the senior league this summer for the first time and made an immediate impact, taking a home a state title from this weekend’s Colorado Tennis Association District Championship in Englewood.
“We were shocked and proud,” team co-captain Libby Robbins said. “We were surprised, the Denver teams were tough. All our years together paid off.”
Having qualified for the event this summer after winning the mountain “Aspen” division, Steamboat played 11 of the state’s top teams with National Tennis Rating Program levels of 3.5 in the 50s age bracket during the three-day doubles tournament. Steamboat Red moved from its four-team flight to the playoff bracket. The team advanced to the semifinals, where it defeated Fort Collins. It beat Denver’s Gates Tennis Center in Sunday’s finals.
“It was pretty competitive; a lot of the wins went to three-set tie-breakers, but we stayed tough in the tie breaks,” Robbins said, pointing out that Steamboat’s only tournament match losses – four out of 15 played – also happened in three-set tie-breakers.
The title win qualifies Steamboat to compete in the USTA Intermountain Sectional Championship next weekend in Boise, Idaho, where the women would have competed against five other Western state champions to advance to October’s nationals.
Unfortunately, because of conflicting commitments, team captain Lola Schlapkohl said the team will be unable to travel to the sectional championships.
“We didn’t expect to win, and we did, so we’re very excited about how things turned out,” Schlapkohl said.
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Steamboat Springs has produced nearly 100 winter Olympians, more than any other town in North America. That fact is everywhere, plastered on websites and informational boards across town.