Steamboat Springs It was just a case of bad timing if you ask Steamboat Springs High School tennis coach John Aragon.
Just hours before his team was scheduled to jump on a bus and head to northeastern Colorado for the first big road trip of the season, his No. 3 singles player Matt Mooney was checking into the hospital for an appendicitis. By 4 a.m., Mooney was headed to surgery and the team was scheduled to leave at 10:30 a.m.
"I was pretty excited to go to the matches," Mooney said. "But I woke up about 10 minutes after 2 a.m. with the worst pain I've ever had in my stomach."
Mooney's parents rushed him to the emergency room and a doctor advised him that he would need to have surgery.
"We had to make a lot of last-minute changes," Aragon said. "It caught us a little off guard and I don't think we were mentally prepared for Friday's match. If we had Matt Mooney for that trip, this team would still be undefeated."
But they didn't have Mooney and Poudre was able to take advantage of several of Steamboat's younger players to escape with a 4-3 win in the Sailors' first loss of the season.
"We lost, so I was pretty bummed," Mooney said.
But despite the loss, Aragon said losing to Poudre wasn't the end of the world for his team.
"It was a real wake-up call for our players," Aragon said. "They were not going to let it happen again."
The next day the team improved its record to 3-1 with impressive 6-1 wins over Ponderosa and Thompson Valley.
Steamboat's Rich Tifft remained undefeated with a mark of 4-0. He is joined by teammates Jeff Aragon and David Upbin, who are 4-0 in the No.1 doubles spot, and freshmen Patrick Ayres and Jonathan Soloman, who are undefeated in the No. 4 doubles spot.
Tifft rolled in matches last week knocking off Poudre's Trent Updegraff in a 6-4, 6-0 match Friday. Tifft also topped Thompson Valley's Brian Hansen (6-0, 6-2) and Ponderosa's Kellman Gerhart (6-0, 6-1) Saturday.
Steamboat's No. 1 doubles team also swept through the weekend, picking up a win over Poudre, Thompson Valley and Ponderosa's No. 1 doubles squad. Steamboat's Ayres and Soloman enjoyed a similar weekend with three wins in the No. 4 bracket.
On Friday, Steamboat fell to Poudre in a 4-3 match. Tifft won along with the No. 1 and No. 4 doubles teams. Carter Allen and Steamboat's No. 2 doubles team of Danny Martin and Andrew Krueger both lost extremely close matches.
Aragon said the key match turned out to be the No. 2 singles battle between Carter and Brad Bimens.
"You have to give it to the Poudre kid," Aragon said. "He just refused to lose."
On Saturday, the Steamboat team turned things around. Against Thompson Valley, Tifft and Martin won singles matches. Steamboat also swept the doubles brackets with all four teams earning points. The story was the same against Ponderosa with Tifft and Allen winning singles matches. The doubles teams were undefeated for the second straight match.
Aragon said he moved a lot of players around last weekend trying to fill the holes. He said he thinks the team will be more stable once he gets Mooney and singles player Joe Cutler back in the lineup.
That could happen by the Sailors' next match, which is scheduled for Sept. 8 against Hotchkiss and Cedaredge at home.