Steamboat tennis faces Grand Junction, Kent Denver in final match before regional |

Steamboat tennis faces Grand Junction, Kent Denver in final match before regional

Steamboat Springs No. 1 singles tennis player Charlie Smith returns a shot during a match against Grand Junction Saturday. The Sailors won the match, later losing to Kent Denver. The matches marked the final regular season play for the Sailors, who will compete at regionals in Grand Junction next weekend.
John F. Russell

— The good news is, the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team dominated the first match of the day against Grand Junction Saturday; the bad news is, Steamboat took on Kent Denver in the afternoon.

“Kent is a really good team,” Sailors coach Joseph O’Dell said. “But I’m really happy with the way our players performed, and I’m hoping they can take a similar mental approach into our matches next weekend at the regional.

The coach had to be pleased with the way his team opened against Grand Junction Saturday, collecting a 6-1 win against the Tigers. No. 1 singles player, Charlie Smith, topped Grand Junction’s Cameron Weckerly 6-3, 6-3. No. 2 singles player, Chase Adams, defeated Cal Hegstrom 6-2, 6-4, and No. 2 singles player, Nolan Connell, beat Luke Aubert 6-3, 6-3.

In doubles, the Sailors’ No. 1 team of Ethan Paulus and Max Lynch beat Matt Miller and Ryan Bowen 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Steamboat’s No. 2 team of River Fox-Welch and Wyatt Stempel rebounded from a first set loss to beat Sam Welling and Josh Newhouse 4-6, 6-4 and 7-6 (8-6).

Steamboat also won at No. 3 doubles, as Peter Wharton and Jack Bender topped Tommy Mahre and Riley King 2-6, 6-3 and 6-4. Steamboat’s only loss of the match came at No. 4 doubles, where Roy Lundeen and Gabe Rabanal fell to Matt Martinez and Joseph Hirschbuhl 6-3, 6-3.

It was the third time this season the Steamboat team has faced Grand Junction.

“I think it gets a little bit easier,” Steamboat’s Charlie Smith said of facing Grand Junction. “You kind of develop a strategy and find a way to beat them, because you play them so many times.”

Adams said he used his familiarity with his opponent to gain the upper hand in Saturday’s match, and it paid off with the win.

“I was just trying to find my points off by going to the net instead of rallying with him,” Adams said, “because I knew that he was good enough to rally with me all day. So I just had to execute my shots.”

But the Sailors’ sense of dominance faded in the afternoon, as Steamboat lost to top-ranked Kent Denver in the final match before next weekend’s regional tournament. O’Dell wanted his team to have a chance to see what a state-caliber team had to offer and hopes it will pay off with a higher level of play in Grand Junction next week.

Smith faced one of the Intermountain Division’s top-ranked players in Casey Ross, who swept past the Sailors top singles player 6-0, 6-0.

At No.2 singles, Adams faced Jack Mouldenhauer, losing 6-0, 6-2, and at No. 3, Connell fell to Niko Hereford 6-0, 6-2. Steamboat was swept in doubles as well, but nearly took a set in a close match at No. 3, where Wharton and Bender went 7-5, 7-5 against Kent’s Nick Savignano and Coby Gold,

Steamboat’s No. 1 team was defeated by Laird Stewart and Sam Nassif 6-1, 6-2. The Sailors’ No. 2 team fell to Oliver Greenwald and Alex Wier 6-1, 6-1, and the No. 4 team lost to Alex Baum and Trent Beckman 6-2, 6-4.

Steamboat now begins preparing for the regional championships, scheduled to take place at Canyon View Park in Grand Junction on Friday. Teams from Steamboat Springs, Vail Mountain, Aspen and Durango will compete with the hope of earning invitations to the state tournament.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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