Steamboat Springs' tennis player Patrick Ayres said that tough early season losses to top players from Kent Denver and Thompson Valley shook his confidence.
But going 4-0 during a recent road trip through the northern Front Range has the Steamboat Springs junior feeling as if he is ready to take on the world -- or at least the state.
"It was a huge confidence-builder," Ayres said. "Not just for me, but the whole team."
Ayres said personal victories over Loveland's Sean Hauser, Boulder's Eric Ron, Fort Collins' Sean Summerall and Greeley West's Matt Krammer have restored his confidence and fueled his desire to get back to the state tournament this fall.
"My personal goal is to win state," Ayres said. "We've already played some of the best teams in the state, and I still haven't seen anyone that I can't beat."
That was the case last weekend as the Sailors won three out of four matches and improved the squad's record to 3-4. Steamboat lost its first three matches of the year to Niwot, Kent Denver and Thompson Valley. But since then, the team's only loss has been to 5A Fort Collins.
Steamboat opened the week by beating Loveland for the first win of the season, 6-1, and kept its momentum going by topping Boulder, 5-2, in the opener of the Loveland Tournament on Friday.
The Sailors picked up points in the singles brackets with Ayres beating Boulder's Ron, 5-7, 6-4 and 10-7 and Taylor Reed beating Boulder's Blake Howard, 6-4, 5-7 and 10-3.
Steamboat's No. 2 doubles team of Danny Weiss and Jon Reese topped Boulder's Chris Molnar and Drew Bienvenieu, 6-3, 4-6 and 7-5.
Steamboat also got points from its No. 3 team of Brian Aragon and Jesse Speare-Schaller, who topped Quentin Karpilow and Evan Cormane. Steamboat's No. 4 team of Dylan Roberts and Brian Behrman also won by topping Boulder's Trevor Odom and Max Caukin.
Saturday, Steamboat returned to the court for matches against Fort Collins and Greeley West.
Steamboat lost to Fort Collins, 5-2, in the first match. Ayres won Steamboat's only point in singles, and the team of Roberts and Behrman also scored a point in the No. 4 doubles position.
Steamboat rebounded in the second match of the day with a thrilling 4-3 win over Greeley West.
"It was one of the best team efforts I've seen since I started coaching here," coach John Aragon said. "Our players stepped it up every point, every set and every match. I'm really proud of the way our team performed."
Solomon and Ayres won in the singles bracket. Taylor Reed lost a tough three-set match to Greeley West's Seth Krammer, 6-3, 6-7(3) and 10-7.
But it was the No. 3 and No. 4 doubles teams that made the difference in the match.
Steamboat's No. 3 team of Aragon and Speare-Schaller held on to beat Greeley West's Eric Langdon and Jered Lish in a hard-fought 4-6, 6-3 and 10-7 match to tie the teams.
Then, with the players from both teams watching in suspense, Steamboat's No. 4 team of Behrman and Roberts met Greeley West players Andy Casseday and Jason Shelton in the deciding match.
Steamboat lost the first set, 3-6, but the Sailor players fought back to take the second set, 6-2, and the final set, 11-9.
Coach Aragon hopes his players will use last week's experience to fuel their efforts this weekend in Grand Junction at the Western Slope Tournament. Steamboat will face several league teams in the matches, which will be played on Mesa State College's campus.
-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209
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