Swiggart’s run to semifinals is highlight for Steamboat tennis | SteamboatToday.com
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Swiggart’s run to semifinals is highlight for Steamboat tennis

Kylee Swiggart smiles wide after winning the final point of her quarterfinal match at the state tennis tournament in Pueblo. Swiggart is the only Sailor who advanced to today’s state semifinals.
Joel Reichenberger

State tennis results

■ No. 2 singles

Kylee Swiggart, Steamboat, def. Lauren Parsons, Pueblo South, 6-1, 6-3

Swiggart def. Stephanie Giltner, Holy Family, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.

■ No. 3 singles

Mayanka Kumar, Kent Denver, def. Mandy Thielemann, Steamboat, 6-2, 7-5

■ No. 1 doubles

Megan Tapia and Kayleigh Brown, Pueblo South, def. Sara Bearss and Kate Cooper, Steamboat, 6-1, 6-1

■ No. 2 doubles

Carmen Whitehead and Rachel Marion, Greeley West, def. Ali Diehl and Alli Lowrie, Steamboat, 6-4, 6-1

■ No. 3 doubles

Rachel Grubbs and Lauren Siegel, Steamboat, def. Chelsea Bean and Annica Ratzlif, Silver Creek, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2

Lily Iacino and Alex Vossmer, Regis, def. Grubbs and Siegel, 6-1, 6-3

■ No. 4 doubles

Summer Smalley and Katie Ross, Steamboat def. Carmella Bessick and Lexie Wood, Widefield, 6-1, 6-2

Danielle Goodman and Riley VanAlstyne, Fossil Ridge, def. Smalley and Ross, 7-6(3), 6-3





Kylee Swiggart smiles wide after winning the final point of her quarterfinal match at the state tennis tournament in Pueblo. Swiggart is the only Sailor who advanced to today’s state semifinals.
Joel Reichenberger

State tennis results

■ No. 2 singles

Kylee Swiggart, Steamboat, def. Lauren Parsons, Pueblo South, 6-1, 6-3

Swiggart def. Stephanie Giltner, Holy Family, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.



■ No. 3 singles

Mayanka Kumar, Kent Denver, def. Mandy Thielemann, Steamboat, 6-2, 7-5

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■ No. 1 doubles

Megan Tapia and Kayleigh Brown, Pueblo South, def. Sara Bearss and Kate Cooper, Steamboat, 6-1, 6-1

■ No. 2 doubles

Carmen Whitehead and Rachel Marion, Greeley West, def. Ali Diehl and Alli Lowrie, Steamboat, 6-4, 6-1

■ No. 3 doubles

Rachel Grubbs and Lauren Siegel, Steamboat, def. Chelsea Bean and Annica Ratzlif, Silver Creek, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2

Lily Iacino and Alex Vossmer, Regis, def. Grubbs and Siegel, 6-1, 6-3

■ No. 4 doubles

Summer Smalley and Katie Ross, Steamboat def. Carmella Bessick and Lexie Wood, Widefield, 6-1, 6-2

Danielle Goodman and Riley VanAlstyne, Fossil Ridge, def. Smalley and Ross, 7-6(3), 6-3

— Her neck arched and her eyes followed the ball the entire way, just to be positive. Sure enough, it landed just out of bounds and before the wide smile, the handshake from the opponent or the hugs from friends and family, Kylee Swiggart unleashed out a loud, deep sigh of relief.

Her reaction summed up what was a day of tough lessons for a young Steamboat Springs High School tennis team at the state tournament in Pueblo. Swiggart survived a tough, three-set quarterfinals match and was the only Sailor to advance to play today in the semifinal round of the state tournament.

The squad’s other five entries in the season-ending tournament all lost in the first or second round.

“I thought we would fare better than we did, but we brought quite a few players for the first time, and there were a lot of nerves involved,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said. “At some points, nerves got the best of us.”

Steamboat’s team Thursday was a mix of state-tested veterans and wide-eyed rookies. Two previous trips to the state semifinals paid off big for Swiggart, who relied on some senior-year swagger to survive.

Last year, she won a state championship with classmate Sara Bearss in the No. 1 doubles classification, and today, she could put herself in position to win another — this one playing as the team’s No. 2 singles entry.

She will face Regis freshman Shelby Cercovnik in the semifinals.

“Nerves are always going to be a part of any big tournament, especially when it gets down to these last parts,” Swiggart said. “I’m really excited.”

She breezed through her early-morning tournament opener, casting Pueblo South’s Lauren Parsons aside, 6-1, 6-3.

An afternoon match against Stephanie Giltner, of Holy Family, was an entirely different story. Swiggart jumped out to win the first three games, but nothing else would come as easy. She eked out the first set, winning, 7-5, but lost all momentum in the second. Giltner pushed Swiggart to all corners of the court and pulled away to even the match with a 6-3 set victory.

“I was mad,” Swiggart said. “I was really determined to come out strong. I talked to my mom and made it my goal to win that very first game.”

That extra focus paid off. Neither player seemed to be able to play clean tennis in the final frame, both succumbing to exhaustion and giving points with unforced errors. Swiggart took a medical timeout with leg cramps toward the end of the match.

She won the first game, just as she had hoped to do, but gave up three of the next four before finally unlocking Giltner’s gritty approach. Swiggart danced around the court, returning as well as she had all day and winning three consecutive games to go up 5-3.

Finally, after giving one game back, she watched as the final point fell near the net, just out of bounds.

“My whole goal throughout the match was to mentally outplay her and physically, as well,” Swiggart said. “I just needed to calm down and focus on making the shots I knew I could make.”

Elsewhere, it was youth that prevailed for Steamboat, just not enough to win two in a row. The No. 3 and No. 4 doubles teams won their first-round matches.

Rachel Grubbs and Lauren Siegel beat Silver Creek’s Chelsea Bean and Annica Ratzlif, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

They couldn’t duplicate their feat one round later against Lily Iacino and Alex Vossmer, of Regis. Steamboat’s pair lost the match, 6-1, 6-3.

Summer Smalley and Katie Ross, playing in the No. 4 doubles bracket, beat Widefield’s Carmella Bessick and Lexie Wood without any problem, 6-1, 6-2. They lost an intense first set in their second round, however, falling in a tiebreaker. Danielle Goodman and Riley VanAlstyne, of Fossil Ridge, won the match by taking the second set, 6-3.

“This is a very special tournament, with all the fans watching and the coaches taking breaks every 20 minutes,” Aragon said. “Hopefully, there was a lot of goal setting going on and lessons learned for next year.”

Steamboat lost a pack of experienced state players at the No. 3 singles, No. 1 doubles and No. 2 doubles levels in the first round.

Mandy Thielemann fell to Mayanka Kumar, of Kent Denver, 6-2, 7-5.

Bearss, playing at No. 1 doubles this year with Kate Cooper, lost, 6-1, 6-1, to Megan Tapia and Kayleigh Brown, of Pueblo South, and Ali Diehl and Alli Lowrie lost, 6-4, 6-1, to Greeley West’s Carmen Whitehead and Rachel Marion at the No. 2 doubles level.

Only the No. 3 and No. 4 doubles teams have any hope of staying alive in the tournament’s consolation bracket. If the team that beats them advances to the finals, they’ll get the chance for a playback opportunity, which would place them in the consolation bracket.

“Our kids still all played hard, and even afterward, they all had a great attitude,” Aragon said. “I’m really proud of the girls.”


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