Steamboat Springs girls tennis records three top-3 finishes at state tourney
GREELEY — Steamboat Springs High School took all seven positions of its team to state. No. 1 singles junior Mae Thorp, No. 3 doubles seniors Maddie Heydon and Soria Rabanal and No. 4 doubles senior Katelyn Kline and junior Kara Stanhope each made the semifinals, and No. 1 singles and No. 3 doubles advanced to the state finals.
Thorp and the No. 3 singles team came away with second place. The No. 1 doubles team of juniors Lauren Ehrlich and Morgan Sauerbrey finished third by winning the playback bracket.
The team also came away with the Sportsmanship Award, which is voted on by all the tennis coaches at state.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Steamboat head coach Kristyn Wykert said. “Every single girl on our team walked onto that court and went out trying and nobody gave up. At the end, that’s all we can ask for.”
No. 3 doubles
Heydon’s last trip to state tennis ended in the first round, and with a new partner, Rabanal, she made it to the state final.
“I kind of thought that we would get pretty far,” Heydon said. “I really was just wanting to win our first match. I just wanted to get past that. It’s pretty cool.”
Rabanal and Heydon won their semifinal match against Aspen juniors Quinn Ramberg and Virginia Tassi 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the state final.
D’Evelyn freshman Maria Christofferson and junior Maddie Dietzler played a strategic game, using the wind advantage to their favor when they could. Both played a fierce short game at the net but struggled against Rabanal’s deep court feeds. Heydon’s quick reflexes make her a force at the net, but the Jaguars knew where to place a shot to confuse both of them.
“We were being really inconsistent,” Wykert said. “We were hitting some shots that we normally don’t hit. We weren’t able to keep it away from the net girl. We were reacting to what was given to us instead of being proactive.”
The wind picked up and the temperature dropped during the match. Both teams had to adapt their shots to the conditions, but in the end, Christofferson and Dietzler took home the title 7-5, 6-1.
“I’m super proud of them as well,. They were undefeated throughout the region,” Wykert said. “Not the outcome they wanted. For the season that they had to get second place at state when they were partners just of this year, I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
No. 1 doubles
Sauerbrey and Ehrlich lost in their opening round of the state bracket to Dawson junior Victoria Joris and sophomore Eloise Shehan, 7-5, 7-6.
When the Dawson team advanced to the semifinal, Sauerbrey and Ehrlich earned a playback and defeated Eaton seniors Mikaelee Salberg and Sydney Booth, 6-4, 6-3. They went on to defeat Peak to Peak sophomore Isabella Brakhage and junior Paige McSavenny 6-2, 6-2 to earn a spot in the consolation championships against Colorado Academy senior Alex Ford and freshman Sarah Preston.
Ehrlich and Sauerbrey tied the first set and were at 7-7 in the tiebreaker before going into a rain delay. They returned to the court to win the set 7-6 in a 9-7 tiebreaker. They secured the third-place showing with a 6-3 win in the second set.
No. 4 doubles
Kline and Stanhope fell in the semifinal to D’Evelyn freshmen Cheranne Wang and Ella Whatley 6-3, 6-4. Whatley and Wang went on to win the tournament.
Steamboat received a playback spot and fell to Colorado Academy juniors Carolina Burke-Dullinger and Madeline Gordon 6-2, 4-6, 5-7.
How the rest of the team faired
The No. 2 doubles team of freshmen Lauren Fullerton and Liesel Wilkinson fell in the quarterfinals on Friday, May 10, and received a playback since their quarterfinal opponents, D’Evelyn seniors Lainie Bonthron and Abby Hawley, won their next match.
The Steamboat freshmen lost in the quarterfinals 6-1, 2-6, 2-6, but saw some success in the playbacks rounds.
Fullerton and Wilkinson defeated junior Abrielle Stikeleather and freshman Audrey Barber 6-0, 6-0 from Colorado Springs. They fell in their next match against Peak to Peak freshman Kendyl Fanger and junior Renesa Khanna 6-3, 6-0.
No. 2 singles senior Lily Fox and No. 3 singles junior Noelle Cerone did not advance after the first round and did not earn a playback.
Fox fell to University freshman Elle Richardson, 6-4, 6-1. Cerone fell 6-1, 2-6, 5-7 to Dawson sophomore Alexis Gilio.
“With Noelle’s match, hands-down the best tennis I’ve seen,” Wykert said. “I would hate to be her opponent, she was playing the best tennis. She came out with a purpose. Unfortunately, her shoulder injury got in the way and she couldn’t keep up.”
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