The key to developing depth is a strong junior varsity program, and Steamboat Springs tennis coach John Aragon said the Sailors had just that this season.
Small in numbers, Steamboat's JV squad had just six players, but those players had little trouble during the season, winning matches easily.
Making up Steamboat's JV team this year were: juniors Brandon Shenfield and Sean Hays; sophomores Zach Epley, Andrew Riley and Cameron Pitet; and freshman Matt Gadbois.
Aragon is expecting many of this year's JV players to vie for spots on next year's varsity team.
"The improvement I saw this year in our JV team was huge," he said. "With a lot of match play this year and the improvement they've shown, that should add to the depth of our team. Overall, I was really pleased with the performance and them sticking it out. The team has definitely gotten stronger."
Usually, Aragon and coach Don Toy hand out a most-improved award to a JV player, but this year each improved so much that it made selecting one difficult. They opted to hand the award to a varsity player instead.
Frequently, JV teams from other schools comment on the ability of Steamboat's players. Only Boulder, which essentially had two varsity teams, gave the Sailors players tough games during the course of the season.
Steamboat loses two seniors to graduation -- Patrick Ayres and Jonathan Solomon-- so the Sailors once again will be a Western Slope force next season, but those two vacancies open up slots for JV players to move up, and Aragon expects them to take advantage.