Steamboat Springs Cedaredge, Hotchkiss and Aspen will greet the members of the Steamboat Springs tennis team this weekend as the Sailors look to pick their game up a notch in league play.
"This is league play now," Sailors coach John Aragon said. "Everything is important from here on out."
In one of the final weekends of non-league play, the Sailors split matches with Eaglecrest and a powerful Colorado Academy team. The Sailors will play a run of four league matches over the next week and a half, before wrapping up the regular season with a non-league contest against Evergreen in Aspen on Saturday, Sept. 28.
"I think we are all playing pretty well right now," the Sailors' No. 2 player Patrick Ayres said. "We just need to focus on this next stretch of matches they are all pretty important."
Ayres said he was happy with his play last weekend but he knows a couple of key mistakes against Colorado Academy's Alec Norton really cost him.
"I just made a couple of really dumb mistakes and it ended up costing me in the end," Ayres said. "I need to clean up those mistakes if I'm going to win the big matches."
Steamboat lost the match 6-1 to Colorado Academy, which was played Saturday. Despite the loss, Aragon was pleased with the way his team competed in the match.
Steamboat's No.1 doubles team of Matt Ramsey and Ryan Zeeb was the only Sailor squad to earn a point in the match.
"Colorado Academy has a very good team and it was a fun tennis match for our guys," Aragon said. "We played well, but that team was just a little bit better than we are right now."
The coach felt the Sailors could have picked up a couple of points in three hard-fought matches. Andrew Krueger lost a heart-breaking 6-3, 6-7(5) and 6-2 match to Colorado Academy's Joe Kaptur in the No. 3 position. Steamboat also lost tight matches in the No. 2 doubles (Danny Weiss and Chris Timmerman) and No. 4 doubles (Pete Zimmer and Ben Robbins).
Steamboat rebounded with a 7-0 win over Eaglecrest in an afternoon match Saturday.
Steamboat swept the match with Jonathan Solomon, Ayres and Krueger all picking up wins in the singles positions.
Ramsey and Zeeb, Weiss and Timmerman, Alex Griffing and Brett Langstaff, and Robbins and Zimmer all won in the doubles positions.
"It was a dominating performance for our guys," Aragon said. "We are starting to close the gap and starting to play a lot more physical game. Now we just need to carry that into league play and the regional."
The team's only real league test will come this weekend and should be a good preview of things to come at the regional tournament. The three matches will take place on the road.
"Sure I think we all want to make it to the state tournament," Ayres said. "But I'm not going to worry about it. If I don't make it I've always got next year or the year after that."