Win or lose, it’s not the draw |

Win or lose, it’s not the draw

Tennis coach looks past 2008 4A state championship brackets to find success

— High school tennis coach John Aragon prefers not to plot.

So when the brackets for the 2008 4A Boys State High School Tennis Championships were released Monday afternoon, the Steamboat Springs coach didn’t start planning how his players were going to make their way to the finals. Instead, he told them that brackets don’t win state titles, players do.

“The bracket is only as good as you make it,” Aragon said Tuesday after looking at where his players will be sitting when the state tennis tournament opens at Pueblo’s City Park on Thursday morning. “It all comes down to winning the matches.”

The brackets, however, do reveal the road his players are likely to follow when play begins.

Freshman Jamey Swiggart will need to get past Pueblo Centennial senior Ben Rode in the opening match in the No. 1 singles bracket. The road to the finals could also include matches against top players such as Cheyenne Mountain’s John Adams and Wheat Ridge senior Jelmer Vriesma.

Kent Denver’s JJ Shpall looks like the player to beat in the No. 2 bracket after placing fourth at No. 1 last season, but Aragon said there are several other contenders, including Wheat Ridge senior Mark Damian and Cheyenne Mountain’s Jonathan Moore.

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Steamboat Springs sophomore Keegan Burger also should be in the hunt. Steamboat’s No. 2 is scheduled to open against Niwot junior Andrew Hefter. Aragon believes if Burger wins that opener, he will be contending for a medal this week in Pueblo.

Jeff Lambart may have Steamboat’s toughest draw this year and will face Kent Denver’s Frazier Cavness in the first round. In 2007, Cavness lost to Cheyenne Mountain’s Jay Patel in the championship match at No. 3 singles.

Cavness will return to the mix this year hoping to land the title that eluded him last fall.

Lambart lost to Cavness earlier this season in a match that Aragon says was much closer than the score.

“We had good points, and it was a good solid match, but he won some critical points and the match,” Lambart said. “At state, all the pressure is going to be on him, and it’s a completely different match down there.”

The seeding looks better for Sailors in the doubles matches. Steamboat’s Charlie Smith and Jack Burger will open against Palmer Ridge’s Kyle Corkey and Alex Nissen.

“We don’t know that much about them,” Smith said. “We just have to go out and play like they are Kent Denver. If we do that, we will win.”

Steamboat’s Alex Gibbs and Mirko Erspamer are scheduled to face Greeley West’s Chase Yoder and Bo Brynteson.

In the No. 3 and No. 4 doubles bracket, Steamboat will open against Evergreen – a team Steamboat shut out two weeks ago.

Zach Valicenti and Ben Paley will face Evergreen’s Bryan Repko and Jack Staebell at No. 3, while Vladen Chase and Erik Sortland will take on Cameron Sadler and Cam Tucker in the first match.

“We are happy about our draw, but we have to make the most of it,” Paley said. “We don’t have any fear, but we don’t want to get cocky, either.”

Aragon and his players view powerful Kent Denver as the squad to beat this year in the team race. But he also thinks the normally strong Cheyenne Mountain team and Wheat Ridge, which just dropped to 4A from 5A, might also make runs for the team title in a very competitive field.

– To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail