Steamboat Springs An eighth straight regional title is there for the taking when the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team opens regionals play Friday in Montrose.
The Sailors are the best team in Region 8, having defeated three regional teams this season. Being good on paper, however, doesn't win points on a court.
"If they don't come out and play like they are capable, Aspen could be a real thorn in their sides," Steamboat coach John Aragon said. "Montrose has a couple very good athletes that play. I don't know what Cortez has, but in the past, they've always come up with a couple good players."
The top two singles players and top two doubles teams from each bracket advance to the Class 4A state tournament Oct. 20 to 22 at Pueblo City Park. Taking two from each bracket allows the Sailors room for some error, but winning a regional title is important to the team and its players because it usually ensures a better seed in the state bracket.
"I think most of these kids on this team have a chance to medal at state," Aragon said. "It depends on the draw."
Steamboat finished the year 8-2 overall in dual play, losing to Class 5A teams from Grand Junction and Boulder. No Sailors doubles team or singles player finished below .500 in dual-match play.
The No. 4 doubles team of Scott Peterson and Brian Behrman, a Moffat County student who plays with Steamboat, heads to regionals with the top record of 10-0 overall in dual-match play. No. 2 singles player Ramsey Bernard and No. 3 singles player Ryan McNamara of Vail Mountain School have 8-2 records.
Better records generate better regional seedings, but anyone can advance out of each bracket.
Peterson, who is 6-foot-4, and Behrman, who stands almost 6 foot, is a formidable -- and tall -- team for the No. 4 doubles slot.
"We own the net," Behrman said.
Being from different schools, Behrman and Peterson did not know each other before the tennis season began.
"We have different personalities, but it's worked," Peterson said. "We've played really well."
Behrman played No. 4 doubles last year, but Peterson hadn't played tennis since middle school, so he was surprised he made the varsity team this year.
"I was playing all summer, and I realized how much I missed it," he said. "I have no idea why I quit."
But he's back, and he and Behrman will be difficult for anyone to beat at the regional tournament. The pair is 15-3 this season, including tournament matches.
"We seem to work really well together," Behrman said.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org