Steamboat Springs boys tennis team sharpens skills against 5A schools
Steamboat hosted two 5A schools — Rocky Mountain and Ponderosa — in a three-team, round-robin boys tennis tournament Saturday at the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center, giving the Sailors another chance to face some of the top competition in the state.
The Sailors’ home tourney came after Steamboat got off to a strong start on the year, facing six teams at a tournament in Vail, five of which compete in the same region as the Sailors. In Vail, Steamboat won all five of its matches against regional foes, while falling to Colorado Academy.
Since then, the Sailors have battled through a number close matches, and on Sept. 8, they traveled to the Western Slope Open in Junction to face a field that included a large number of 5A schools.
“Our team, they just hadn’t played 5A teams yet this season; they’re scared to death,” Sailors coach Jason Scicchitano said of the Western Slope Open.
Scicchitano said that mentally, he saw the Sailors break down in Grand Junction as Steamboat faced bigger schools in front of larger crowds than the team is used to.
“But after, it’s always a good experience — they always end up playing better, and that’s what we’re seeing this weekend,” Scicchitano continued as Steamboat was going head-to-head against Rocky Mountain on Saturday. “This is some of the best tennis they’ve played all weekend.”
According to the coach, all of the Sailors’ singles players are coming along fast this season, and they’re led by junior Wiley Cotter, who stepped into the No. 1 slot after playing through the offseason. But Scicchitano also said the trio is a tight bunch, and their challenge matches have remained close.
At No. 2 singles is junior Liam Siefken, and senior team captain Caleb Grommeck is in the No. 3 slot.
“He is probably the best caption we’ve ever had and ever will have,” Scicchitano said of Grommeck. “He organizes optional practices without coaches … and he had a team breakfast (Saturday) morning. At like 7:30, they made reservations for everybody, and like, I didn’t even know about. It’s awesome what he does for the team culture. It’s amazing.”
Steamboat rounds out its roster with a number of younger players in the doubles slots, and in many ways, Scicchitano said the younger players are still working to gain their confidence.
“This is what they’ve been training for, and then they get out (into high school matches) and they kind of play way below what they’re capable of,” Scicchitano said. “By the end of the season or by next season, they’ll be seasoned a little more. There’s some talent there.”
Steamboat has three home matches coming up. The Sailors will face Aspen on Monday, Central Grand Junction on Friday and then Basalt on Sept. 29.
“We’re looking forward to all those home matches,” Scicchitano said. “They all mean a lot to us and friends and family, and then we got regionals after that and we’re looking forward to redeeming ourselves a little bit in Grand Junction.”
Eli Pace is the editor of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. Reach him at email@example.com or 970-871-4221.
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