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As a freshman, Ramsey Bernard is supposed to be learning lessons.

This week at the Class 4A state tennis tournament, he's been dishing them out.

On Friday at Pueblo City Park, Bernard blitzed Alexander Dawson junior Jacob Szarzec, 6-2, 6-0, in the semifinals, staying on track to become the first state champion in Steamboat Springs history.

In rolling to the finals, Bernard has defeated two seniors and a junior while losing just six games.

"I'm stoked right now," he said. "It's huge. For the past few months, we've been practicing for this. It's a huge deal."

The way Bernard is winning is impressive, too, particularly against Szarzec.

Neither player could capitalize on his own serve early in the match, but Bernard had a 3-2 lead in the first set. He broke Szarzec's serve again to go up 4-2, and then came the turning point. Bernard finally won a game on his serve, going up 5-2. Szarzec never won another game.

"I got a huge break there (to go up 4-2)," Bernard said. "When I broke him to go 4-2 and then I held serve to go to 5-2, everything went from there. Once I broke him, and two games in a row, he got really frustrated."

Szarzec, talented as he is, has trouble controlling his emotions. Bernard, remarkably calm for a freshman, took advantage. Bernard fed off Szarzec's frustration.

"That made me that much more confident," Bernard said of seeing Szarzec's frustration. "I knew if I could just get a few points and get into his head, I could do it."

Bernard won the last nine games of the match.

"I really stayed focused," he said. "I was on the top of my game and was really focused."

The Sailors had a pair of doubles teams in the semifinals, as well, but both teams fell short of the finals.

At No. 3 doubles, Nick Ludolph and Jesse Schaller lost to Evergreen, 7-5, 6-3. Mullen took out the No. 4 team of Brian Behrman and Dylan Roberts, 6-4, 6-0.

Steamboat Springs goes into today's action with three medals assured.

Patrick Ayres and Jonathon Solomon rebounded from a loss in the first round at No. 1 doubles and won both of their playback matches Friday. They will face Broomfield for third place today.

"I was very pleased to see them come off a loss with (Cheyenne Mountain, in the first round)," coach John Aragon said. They were pretty down and came back and really played well."

Ludolph and Schaller also will play for third place. They beat Niwot, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, in playbacks.

"That was a big win for them," Aragon said.

Overall, Aragon was pleased with his team, which is sitting in third place with 27 points. Kent Denver has clinched the team title with 48 points, while Cheyenne Mountain has 36 points.

But the depth of the Steamboat team may have this year's likely winners worried as they look into the future. Steamboat has nine of 11 players returning next year.

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