Four-time state qualifier Molly Weiss will return to Pueblo City Park this week for her final appearance at the state tennis tournament. Weiss, a senior, will be representing the Sailors in the No. 3 singles position.

Photo by John F. Russell

Four-time state qualifier Molly Weiss will return to Pueblo City Park this week for her final appearance at the state tennis tournament. Weiss, a senior, will be representing the Sailors in the No. 3 singles position.

Steamboat tennis hopes for top-three finish at state

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Steamboat pairings

- No. 2 singles

Shelby Reed vs. Holy Family's Christina DeWitt

- No. 3 singles

Molly Weiss vs. Broomfield's Kristin Erickson

- No. 1 doubles

Sara Bearss and Kylee Swiggart vs. Greeley West's Mary Mekeal and Alexandria Lehnert

- No. 2 doubles

Mandy Thielemann and Hayley Richman vs. Rocky Canyon's Lucia Vasquez and Jaden Schupp

- No. 3 doubles

Alexis and Valerie Lezin vs. Rock Canyon's Jackie Franklin and Alyssa Davanzo

- No. 4 doubles

Kaitie Breisch and Claire Parsons vs. La Junta's Ashley Carrillo and Aubry Trujillo

— When it comes to Pueblo and state tennis, Steamboat Springs' Molly Weiss is a veteran.

The senior has played in the tournament three times and is preparing for her fourth. The state high school tennis tournament opens at 9 a.m. today in Pueblo and continues through Saturday.

Weiss, who is competing at state for the first time as a singles player, said she has a different approach to her last time at the tournament.

"With singles, it's all up to me," Weiss said. "I have to go out there with the mentality that it's all up to me. I'm more nervous than before, but I actually think it's a good thing. I feel that makes me play better."

The Sailors will need Weiss and the team's other nine players to play well and advance far into the tournament if they want to maintain their preseason goal of a top-three finish.

Despite not having top singles player Lisa Floyd, Steamboat coach John Aragon said a top-three finish is viable.

"I look at this team, from everybody that is going, to have the ability to medal," Aragon said. "If they all go with that same attitude, they are going to score a lot of points. It looks like it's going to spread out. We can definitely achieve that goal. We need to be 10 deep, and they're all going to have to work hard."

Niwot and Cheyenne Mountain come into the tournament as the favorites. Steamboat has seen some of the players from Cheyenne Mountain at tournaments earlier in the year and lost to Niwot, 6-1, without the team's full roster.

"The one thing about this year is there is not just that one dominant team," Aragon said. "Niwot has the edge over most other teams, and Cheyenne Mountain is young, but good. It just depends on how we match up and handle those head-to-heads."

Along with Weiss at No. 3 singles, Shelby Reed, at No. 2 singles, will be making another appearance at state.

Reed said after her state draw came, she knew there was a possibility of finishing in the top two.

"I'm really excited about going in and trying to beat all the girls that beat me," Reed said.

Claire Runge of Niwot figures to be Reed's top competition. Runge beat Reed, 6-3, 6-3, earlier this year in a three-hour marathon.

If the brackets go according to seeds, Runge and Reed would meet in the semifinals.

Other Steamboat players who Aragon said have a legitimate shot to medal include the No. 1 doubles team of Kylee Swiggart and Sara Bearss, No. 2 doubles team of Mandy Thielemann and Hayley Richman, No. 3 doubles team of Alexis and Valerie Lezin and the No. 4 doubles team of Kaitie Breisch and Claire Parsons.

"You look at our three and four doubles teams and they're playing really solid late in the season," Aragon said. "If our No. 1 doubles can manage their nerves and compete, they're athletic enough to make it happen. Our No. 2 doubles team is really coming around. Their last match in (Grand) Junction shows they have the potential to medal."

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