Steamboat tennis team’s loss at home doesn’t reflect its success |

Steamboat tennis team’s loss at home doesn’t reflect its success

Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis senior Kyle Saunders makes contact with the ball, while No. 2 doubles partner, freshman Wiley Cotter, watches on during a home competition against Rocky Mountain High School on Saturday.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis team got swept 7-0 by Rocky Mountain High School at home Saturday. The loss isn’t a good reflection of their season, but head coach Bill Conway said the loss came at a great time. With regionals two weeks away, his team can learn from the defeat and improve.

“These type of matches, getting these types of results, are always really good wakeup calls before going in (to regionals),” Conway said. “When you start doing really, really well, you start coasting.”

The team hasn’t been exactly coasting through its season. The Sailors are 8-4 on the year, and their losses have been close ones. The wins, while more frequent, have also been close and never by way of a sweep.

On Saturday, there were no close wins. Every Sailor player suffered a straight-sets loss.

“It’s more encouraging than the scores,” Conway said. “We’re starting to see the things we’re implementing in practice. Now, implementing and starting to see them versus owning them are very different things.”

The No. 2 doubles team of freshman Wiley Cotter and senior Kyle Saunders were the most competitive Sailors of the day. In set one, they lost 7-5. The pair were down 4-3 then won two straight games to go up 5-4.

Rocky Mountain hung on to win the next two though, going up 6-5. Steamboat and Rocky Mountain sat at 30 all. The Sailors had to win the game to tie the set at six and force a tiebreaker. Rocky Mountain won the next point, going up 40-30, then won 7-5.

Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis No. 2 singles player Gabe Gray aims for the ball during a home competition against Rocky Mountain High School on Saturday.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

“Our lobs and getting their lobs was working well,” Cotter said, who also mentioned that putting angles on the Lobos was effective.

Whatever was working in the first set didn’t carry into the second. Cotter and Saunders got down on themselves in the second set as the Lobos took an early lead. The Rocky Mountain players were sharper in the second set, serving better and swinging with intention. Meanwhile, the Sailors were left playing defense.

“We just got tired,” Saunders said. “That was a long first set.”

“We just broke down,” Cotter added.

Despite their age gap, Saunders and Cotter work well together.

The No. 1 doubles pairing of junior Xander Dalke and freshman Liam Siefkin also have great chemistry despite one being much younger than the other. The pair has been playing well all fall and put up a fight in a 6-3, 6-4 loss Saturday.

“For what the older kids have in maturity and trying to keep it together, the younger ones have in skill set for playing tennis for longer,” Conway said. “The tennis maturation is very similar.”

The Sailors have plenty of confidence pocketed from early season wins. Saturday served them a lesson in staying humble and staying focused.

“I always explain to the kids, focus on a tennis court is like learning to drive a car,” Conway said. “It’s like when the radio is on, and you’re going straight, you lose focus. That’s in between points. The second a point starts, it’s like when the brake lights come on in front of you. How quick do you focus and lock in?”

Rocky Mountain 7, Steamboat Springs 0

Singles: 1. Nash Whittington loss, 6-3, 6-2. 2. Gabe Gray loss, 6-1, 6-3. 3. Forfeit.

Doubles: 1. Xander Dalke and Liam Siefkin loss, 6-3, 6-4. 2. Wiley Cotter and Kyle Saunders loss, 7-5, 6-1. 3. Eli Ince and Caleb Groemmeck loss, 6-0, 6-0. 4. Michael Lake and Fischer St. John loss, 6-0, 6-0.

Steamboat Boys Tennis Schedule

Aug. 19 - at Central Grand Junction

Aug. 20-21 - at Fruita Monument

Aug. 27 - at Loveland, 2nd

Sept. 9 - at Durango, Steamboat Springs 4, Durango 3 and Steamboat Springs 4, Central 3

Sept. 10-11 - at Grand Junction

Sept. 18 - vs. Rocky Mountain, L 7-0

Sept. 25 - at Aspen Triangular

Oct. 2 - vs. Kent Denver, L 5-2

vs. Ponderosa, L 7-0

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