Steamboat Springs High School freshman Jamey Swiggart practices Tuesday at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School freshman Jamey Swiggart practices Tuesday at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

A different look

Young boys tennis team opens season today at Montrose

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Projected 2008 lineup

No. 1 singles - Jamey Swiggart

No. 2 singles - Keegan Burger

No. 3 singles - Jeff Lambart

No. 1 doubles - Jack Burger and Charlie Smith

No. 2 doubles - Mirko Erspamer and Max Roder

No. 3 doubles - Zach Valicenti and Ben Paley

No. 4 doubles - Murphy Roberts and Kyle Rogers

2008 SSHS tennis schedule

Today at Montrose, 4:30 p.m.

Thursday at Grand Junction Central, 9 a.m. (tentative)

Friday vs. Fruita, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Durango in Grand Junction, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 5 and 6 at Western Slope Open in Grand Junction, TBA

Sept. 13 at Boulder, 9 a.m.

Sept. 13 at Boulder vs. Greeley West, noon

Sept. 20 vs. Aspen, 9 a.m.

Sept. 20 vs. Alexander Dawson, 2 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Colorado Academy vs. Cheyenne Mountain, 11 a.m.

Sept. 27 at Colorado Academy, 3 p.m.

Oct. 3 at Evergreen, 4:30 p.m.

Oct. 10 and 11 Regional meet at home, TBA (tentative)

Oct. 16 to 18 State Tournament in Pueblo, TBA

— The numbers, the years and the players change, but the expectations of the Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis team never do.

Even as the team struts out numerous freshmen and few seniors for today's opening match in Montrose, the year-end goals - such as winning an 11th straight regional title and placing in the top 3 at state - make up most of the chatter at practice.

"They all have the ability to medal at state, but they have to get through our region and our region keeps getting a little bit tougher every year," Steamboat coach John Aragon said. "Last year, we got regional title No. 10. I know it's already been around they want No. 11. I think if they believe in each other and work hard, they can make that happen."

While Steamboat's young, the team might be deeper than ever.

Although Class 4A No. 1 singles champion Ramsey Bernard now is playing in college, a litany of talented freshmen are expected to see serious court time this year.

The biggest addition may be freshman Jamey Swiggart, a constant top finisher in local, state and national tournaments. Swiggart is expected to be the Sailors' No. 1 singles player despite never having taken the court in high school.

"He's solid on all sides," Aragon said of Swiggart. "He's young but a great competitor. This will be a great year for him. He's going to make it tough on some players."

Other freshmen expected to contribute include Max Roder, Murphy Roberts and Kyle Rogers, all who are competing for positions in doubles play.

Sophomore Keegan Burger is expected to be the No. 2 singles player, while junior Jeff Lambart will play No. 3 singles.

"I guess I have a lot more high school experience than some of the kids," said Lambart, who spent his summer playing tournaments and going to tennis camps. "But I think all the kids have a ton of match experience coming in. We want to win regionals again. That's the first step. Then we want to go as deep as we can at state."

At No. 1 doubles, Steamboat will feature sophomore Jack Burger and senior Charlie Smith. The No. 2 doubles team is expected to be sophomore Mirko Erspamer and Roder, with seniors Zach Valicenti and Ben Paley making up the No. 3 doubles team.

The No. 4 doubles team is expected to be Roberts and Rogers.

Senior Alex Gibbs and junior Vladen Chase are expected to contribute, but have been unable to play recently because of injuries. Last year, Gibbs teamed with Smith to finish fourth in the state at No. 1 doubles. Valicenti and Paley also finished fourth in the state at No. 3 doubles last year.

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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