Sailors tennis streak snapped
Steamboat 2nd at regionals, sending big team to state
May 6, 2017
It was with a battle, not a whimper, that the streak ended in the eyes of Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis coach John Aragon.
The team had its streak of 12 consecutive regional championships snapped Saturday, washed away by a brilliant round of tennis from Aspen in the regional championship matches.
The Skiers won regional titles in all four brackets in which they had the opportunity, including three head-to-head against Steamboat players.
The Sailors won the remaining three regional titles and will send six entries to the state tournament. That's two more than the team sent a year ago and one more than the five Aspen is sending.
But, it all added up to 63 points for the Skiers and 61 for the Sailors, ending what's been more than a decade of dominance for Steamboat Springs tennis.
"Aspen really outplayed us," Aragon said. "It was great tennis to watch. It was competitive all the way through. It all boiled down to the fact that they handled the stress a little better than we did. It's not like anyone ever gave up. They were just a little better than we were on this day."
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Steamboat won regional championships in three brackets. Maddie Thompson took care of business at No. 2 singles, winning easily, 6-1, 6-0, against Vail Mountain's Grace Anderson.
Natalie Simon and Emmie Thompson cruised past Paonia's Kambry Hall and Ashley Ziemer 6-1, 6-2. Finally, Lauren Ehrlich and Morgan Sauerbrey won a thrill match against Peyton Schuster and Lucy Streich, of Delta, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 at No. 4 doubles.
That No. 4 doubles match was decided on an intense final point. The ball lingered on the net before rolling to the Steamboat side, but Sauerbrey contested the point, insisting a Delta player and contacted the net with her swing.
Tournament officials — from Delta no less — backed her up, and Steamboat took the point and the match. It appeared briefly that the win might be enough to hold off Aspen in the team standings, but the Skiers picked up the final wins they needed to dethrone the Sailors.
Mae Thorp, at No. 1 singles, and Lily Fox, at No. 3 singles, both lost tough two-set matches against Aspen opponents by identical scores, 6-3, 6-4. Hadley McGee and Christina Hathaway then lost at No. 3 doubles 6-3, 6-2.
All of Steamboat's players in action Saturday earned a spot at the Class 3A state tournament, which begins Thursday in Greeley.
"The girls were a little shocked," Aragon said. "We talked about it, and I said it'd have been one thing if we came down here and didn't fight for it. They should keep their heads up. We came down with this team, and we were missing a couple of players, but we fought hard. On this day, they beat us. That's sports. We'll set goals for the next tournament and next year and work a little harder to make it all happen."