Sailors doubles team learns from 1st experience at state
PUEBLO — Steamboat Springs High School junior Eli Ince and sophomore Caleb Grommeck just finished their first trip to the Colorado High School Activities Association 4A Boys Tennis State Championships, and they are already planning for next year.
“I want to be more aggressive next year,” Ince said.
The No. 3 doubles pair were the only Sailors to qualify for state from the boys tennis team. Neither had been before and were overwhelmed at first but put up a strong effort in their second match. The Sailors lost both matches but now know what to expect when they, hopefully, return to state in the future.
“The first match they played wasn’t their best, and then they stepped up and played really well in the second match,” said head coach Bill Conway. “It was nice to see all the work they put in in the second match. It was a great experience, and they did really well.”
Grommeck and Ince had a rough start Thursday night. They faced Kent Denver in the first round, a team they just lost to a couple of weeks ago at home. Recalling the loss and freaking out in their first state match, the Sailors fell 6-0, 6-2.
“It was really terrifying, and I was not very focused,” Ince said. “I was scared, so I didn’t play great at the beginning.”
After the quick loss, the Sailors weren’t sure if they’d get a playback. If Kent Denver lost its next match, Steamboat would be done. If Kent Denver won and continued through the championship bracket, Grommeck and Ince would get to play again.
“We just went to bed early. I thought and assumed, ‘We’re going to have another match tomorrow,’ and just prepped normally,” Grommeck said.
The team got a good night’s sleep and talked about what they could do better. In the morning, they learned Kent Denver won, and they would play another match.
The boys faced a pair from Peak to Peak and battled in a close opening set, which went to a tie breaker.
“Our net game, our movement was a lot better in the second match,” Grommeck said. “Our rallies, making sure we got the ball in, we made them play instead of making unforced errors. Those were definitely the biggest things.”
Peak to Peak won the tiebreaker 7-4, then won the second set 6-3.
“We made way less unforced errors and (were) more consistent with our shots and more aggressive,” Ince said. “We kind of got tired at the second set and went downhill from there. Once we lost the first set, we lost a little motivation.”
Grommeck and Ince have worked together all season, winning most of their matches throughout the year and taking second at regionals. State didn’t go their way, but they feel better prepared to do well there in 2022.
“The nerves got to me the first match,” Grommeck said. “However, I think it’s really going to help me build for future tournaments and future matches.”
CHSAA 4A State Championships
No. 3 Doubles
First round: Tyler Haymons and Sebastian Boada, Kent Denver, def. Caleb Grommeck and Eli Ince, Steamboat Springs, 6-0, 6-2. Playback: Benjamin Wintraub and Atticus Phillips, Peak to Peak, def. Grommeck and Ince, SS, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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