Steamboat Springs' Alex Gibbs keeps his eye on the goal during a semifinal round of the Regional Tennis Tournament on Friday afternoon at the Tennis Center. Gibbs and partner Mirko Erspamer advanced to the championship round.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs' Alex Gibbs keeps his eye on the goal during a semifinal round of the Regional Tennis Tournament on Friday afternoon at the Tennis Center. Gibbs and partner Mirko Erspamer advanced to the championship round.

Sailors roll into regionals

Steamboat tennis dominates during tourney's first game

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Mirko Erspamer returns a volley during a match in Friday's regional tennis tournament at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Erspamer and No. 2 doubles partner Alex Gibbs topped Hotchkiss in the semifinals to earn a shot in today's championship match. Play begins at 10 a.m.

SSHS tennis results

No. 1 singles

Steamboat's Jamey Swiggart def. Montrose's Robert Herr, 6-2, 6-1

No. 2 singles

Steamboat's Keegan Burger def. Cortez's Reece Stanley, 6-0, 6-0

No. 3 singles

Steamboat's Jeff Lambart def. Cedaredge's Chris Smith, 6-3, 6-0

No. 1 doubles

Steamboat's Jack Burger and Charlie Smith def. Cortez's Green and White, 6-1, 6-2

No. 2 doubles

Steamboat's Mirko Erspamer and Alex Gibbs def. Hotchkiss' Malleysky and Cummings, 6-0, 6-1

No. 3 doubles

Steamboat's Zach Valicenti and Ben Paley def. Cortez's Wegner and Haukeness, 6-0, 6-0

No. 4 doubles

Steamboat's Erik Sortland and Vladen Chase def. Cortez's Powell and Tripp, 6-0, 6-1.

It was quick, it was efficient and it was exactly what the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team thought it would do on the first day of the regional tournament at The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

The Sailors advanced all three singles players and all four doubles players into today's finals, and in the process it didn't drop a set the whole day.

The finals start at 10 a.m. today at the Tennis Center.

"It's great to see all 11 make it to the finals," Steamboat coach John Aragon said about his players.

"Looking at (today), we have some very good opponents. We have to stay focused and work hard. But it was a good day" Friday, he said.

Because of seeding, all of Steamboat's players had a bye in the first round, making for a short day.

All three singles players - Jamey Swiggart, Keegan Burger and Jeff Lambart - won convincingly.

The Sailors doubles teams might have been even more impressive. The four teams combined to lose only five games en route to the finals.

"It's just about confidence," said Steamboat's Vladen Chase, who, along with partner Erik Sortland, rolled through their side of the No. 4 doubles bracket. "Right from the warm-up, we were confident with our game."

In the finals, Aspen will oppose Steamboat in six of the seven matches. Only at No. 4 doubles will Steamboat see Montrose.

Still, the Sailors are a confident bunch. Less than a month ago, Steamboat beat Aspen, 6-1. The only Sailors loss that day came at No. 1 singles, as the freshman Swiggart battled a bad back throughout the match.

Swiggart's healthy - evidenced by his 6-2, 6-1 win against Montrose's Robert Herr - and the rest of the Sailors obviously are confident heading into today's finals.

"Well, I just came in expecting to do well," said Keegan Burger, who beat Reece Stanley, 6-0, 6-0, to advance in the No. 2 singles bracket. "I played my game. (Today) I have to play consistently and play my game. I'm nervous for every match, but I think I'm going to win."

If the Sailors win their finals matches, they'll automatically advance to the state tournament next Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Pueblo. A loss could mean a potential playback match for the right to go to state.

Aragon said he is confident Steamboat will send a majority of its team to the state tournament and wrap up the team's 11th consecutive regional title.

"What happens in the season is learning for this situation right here," Aragon said. "Basically, it's a new season. With the skills you've acquired, now is the time to put it into play."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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