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Steamboat tennis fares well against 5A teams

Tamera Manzanares

The Steamboat Springs boys tennis team plays in Class 4A, but the Sailors figure if they can take on and beat larger 5A teams now, they should fare well when their 4A regional and state tournaments roll around in October.

Steamboat defeated Fruita-Monument, 7-0, but fell to Grand Junction High, 4-3, in Thursday’s matches in Fruita.

“We are playing a lot of 5A teams this year,” senior Patrick Ayres said. “It should help us for state.”

Today is the third of a three-day swing through Grand Junction. Steamboat faced Fruita and Grand Junction on Thursday and opened the highly competitive, two-day Western Slope Tournament on Friday at Mesa State College. That tournament wraps up today.

“Each match and each tournament they learn something,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said. “And if they keep working toward regionals and state, I think some of these kids can medal (at state).”

That’s the plan for the No. 1 doubles team of Patrick Ayres and Jonathan Solomon, two seniors still playing together after teaming up as freshmen. Both played singles last season with a high level of success, and they seem to be faring well again.

Ayres and Solomon defeated Fruita’s Josh Jewkes and Todd Lambert, 6-2, 7-5. They also defeated Grand Junction’s Darin Coleman and Charlie Keenan, 6-2, 6-4, on Thursday.

“I think we’ve improved since our freshman year,” Ayres said. “We both still understand what the other is going to do.”

The three-day trip to Grand Junction is the first competitive tennis the Sailors have played since defeating Denver East on Aug. 24, and many players within the Western Slope Tournament are the best Steamboat has seen to date.

“It’s a tough tournament,” Aragon said. “Right now, we have three spots where we are competing well: No. 1 singles, No. 1 doubles and No. 3 singles. We just need to see competition, and now we have to start fighting for points.”

The No. 1 singles player is Walker Loetscher, a junior from Battle Mountain playing with Steamboat this season because his school doesn’t offer the sport. The No. 3 singles player is freshman Ramsey Bernard, who seemingly hasn’t let the transition from junior high to high school faze him.

The other players on Steamboat’s team are winning matches — everyone is in the finals today — but Aragon wants to see his players get over nerves and a lack of confidence. He said playing tough opponents should help strengthen the Sailors from top to bottom.

Ayres and Solomon advanced all the way to the main draw finals, a first for a Steamboat duo at the Western Slope Tournament, Aragon said. The pair defeated a team from Littleton with ease, 6-0, 6-2.

“They played incredible tennis,” he said.

The Sailors will all vie for top three finishes in today’s Western Slope Championships.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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