Sailors tennis players take aim at regional competition

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The Sailors tennis team's No. 1 singles player, Rich Tifft, and No. 1 doubles team of Walker Pruett and David Upbin both finished the 2000 regular-season campaign last weekend with undefeated records in dual matches.

Tifft defeated Ponderosa's Kollman Gearhart in a 6-0, 6-0 match as the Sailors topped the Front Range team in a 4-3 shutout. It was 5A Ponderosa's only dual loss of the season. Pruett and Walker knocked off Ponderosa's Hayden Howard and Cory Hodgin, 6-3, 7-5.

Tifft finished the season with a perfect 9-0 mark. The Sailors were 8-1 with the only loss of the season coming in the first week to top-ranked Kent Denver. The Sailors' No. 1 doubles team of Pruett and Upbin, No. 2 team of Jeff Aragon and Matt Mooney and No. 3 team of Danny Martin and Brian Berge also won points in the match.

"It was a great season," Sailors head coach John Aragon said. "Now, we have to carry some of that momentum into the postseason."

Following the dual win on Sept. 29, the Sailors completed the season with a third-place finish at the University Tournament in Greeley.

The tournament format was a little different than most of the Sailors have played in this season. Instead of working through brackets, each of the teams' players faced one another in pro set matches. So each of Steamboat's players faced their counterparts from Thompson Valley, University, Skyview and Greeley West.

The Sailors' No. 2 team of Aragon and Mooney won their division at the tournament. Tifft finished second in the University Tournament despite losing just one match to a foreign-exchange student named Moritz Ellmann. The Sailors' No. 3 singles player, Joe Cutler, also placed second in the event.

The Sailors' No. 1 doubles team of Upbin and Pruett and No. 4 doubles team of Andrew Krueger and Matt Ramsey both enjoyed second-place finishes. Martin and Berge placed third

"It was a funny format for a tournament," coach Aragon said. "The players really didn't like the pro sets, but it gave them a chance to play a lot of different teams and pick up some much-needed experience"

The Sailors will head to Grand Junction Friday for the start of the regional tournament. A top finish there means a trip to the state meet the following weekend in Pueblo.

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