Wednesday, October 8, 2003
The 2003 Class 4A State Tennis Tournament opens today at Pueblo City Park, and every varsity member of the Steamboat Springs boys team will play there. Strong performances at last weekend's regional tournament earned each player the chance to compete for a state title.
The Sailors easily won their sixth straight regional championship, crowning two singles champions and three doubles champions in the process.
With only one senior on the roster, Alex Griffing, the state tournament will be a valuable learning experience for many of Steamboat's players regardless of how they finish.
But coach John Aragon said several players and teams have the talent and skill to finish among the top four in the state in their respective divisions.
"Our kids are going to have to handle some pressure," he said, "but I think they have the ability to medal."
Until a broken arm forced freshman Brian Aragon out of competition before regionals, John Aragon was confident his No. 3 doubles team of Brian Aragon and Jesse Speare-Schaller had the potential to win the medal, or finish among the top four.
However, Brandon Shenfield, Aragon's replacement, and Speare-Schaller proved to be a formidable combination, going 3-0 at regionals to claim a regional championship and a spot at the state tournament.
They and No. 3 singles player Taylor Reed received favorable draws, which should help them advance in the state tournament, coach Aragon said.
Reed, a sophomore from Moffat County, won a regional championship as well, defeating Aspen's Will Otte 6-2, 6-3 in the finals. On Sept. 27, Reed had to fight off several match points before rallying to defeat Otte in three sets.
Coach Aragon said if Reed sticks to his style and does a good job keeping the ball in the court, the young player could finish well in Pueblo.
Steamboat's No. 2 singles player Patrick Ayres wrapped up an impressive regular season with two easy regional wins and a championship last weekend. Ayres did not receive as favorable a draw as some of his teammates, but he has the talent to fare well, too, Aragon said. Ayres enters the state tournament with a 13-5 match record.
Right behind Ayres is the No. 4 doubles team of Brian Behrman and Dylan Roberts at 12-5.
"Their draw isn't too easy but they are a good team," Aragon said.
Also representing the Sailors at state will be No. 1 singles player Jonathan Solomon, the No. 1 doubles team of Griffing and Nick Ludolph and the No. 2 doubles team of Danny Weiss and Jon Reese.
Solomon, Steamboat's top singles player, will square off against some of the state's premier players this weekend. The Sailors' top two doubles teams will face experienced players, as well. Ayres, Solomon, Weiss and Griffing have previous state experience.
"If we go out and play really well, they have a chance to upset some people," Aragon said.
The state tournament runs through Saturday at the Pueblo City Park.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208
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