Steamboat Springs High School junior Keegan Burger hits the ball during practice Wednesday. The team's first game is Friday at home against Evergreen High School.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School junior Keegan Burger hits the ball during practice Wednesday. The team's first game is Friday at home against Evergreen High School.

Coach says tennis squad has strength, talent to earn state title

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Tennis season approaches

Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis coach John Aragon and and junior Keegan Burger talk about the upcoming season.

Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis coach John Aragon and and junior Keegan Burger talk about the upcoming season.

2009 tennis schedule

Steamboat Springs High School

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

Saturday vs. Ponderosa, 8 a.m.

Saturday vs. Colorado Academy, 12:30 p.m.

Sept. 2 at Wheat Ridge, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 9 vs. Air Academy, 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 10 at Fruita Monument, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 11 and 12 at Western Slope Open in Grand Junction, TBA

Sept. 19 at Aspen, 1 p.m.

Sept. 25 at Alexander Dawson, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 26 at Greeley West, 8 a.m.

Sept. 26 at Boulder, 11 a.m.

Oct. 3 vs. Kent Denver, 9 a.m.

Oct. 8 and 9 at regionals in Delta, TBA

Oct. 15, 16 and 17 at state in Pueblo, TBA

— The Steamboat Springs High School tennis team has produced singles champions, doubles medalists and 11 consecutive regional titles.

But this year, coach John Aragon said, the team has a chance to produce something it never has: a state title.

"We're going to be 11 deep, from No. 1 singles to No. 4 doubles," Aragon said. "This is probably the most depth we've had since I've been coaching in Steamboat."

The Sailors are so deep that Aragon said the only for-sure spot belongs to sophomore Jamey Swiggart at No. 1 singles.

Swiggart, who played in the same slot as a freshman last season, is coming off an impressive summer. He won the 16- and 18-year-old divisions at the Colorado State Junior Open in June and won the 16-year-old division at the Montana State Open.

The summer competition matched Swiggart against many of the top players in Class 4A, and he beat most of them.

"I'd like to medal at state," he said. "The main goal would be to win at state."

Steamboat also returns Keegan and Jack Burger, Vladan Chase, Mirko Erspamer and Jeff Lambart, among others. Jack Burger and Chase each medaled at state last year.

While Swiggart is slotted in at No. 1 singles, the rest of the spots are open. Aragon said as many as seven players will vie for the No. 3 singles spot.

"We have the most experience on this team," said Lambart, who along with Chase are the lone seniors. "I'm looking to step up and take that leadership role through regionals because if we want to get that top three at state, we have to be 11 deep."

The Sailors should know where they stand before the regional and state tournaments.

The team will play at the Western Slope Open tournament on Sept. 11 and 12 in Grand Junction, which usually draws most of the top teams in the state. The Sailors also have regular-season dates with traditional powerhouses Greeley West, Boulder and Kent Denver.

Aragon said playing those types of opponents is key to the season, especially considering the team's lofty goals.

"Honestly, I thought this year we'll go in and make some noise just with the depth we have," he said. "If things go well and they just get lucky and step up, I think they can bring hardware home from the state tournament."

The key might be getting the younger players to play like seasoned veterans. Although the team has just two seniors, it has its share of experience.

In addition to Swiggart, most players on the team competed in multiple tournaments during the summer.

"People are always talking about Kent Denver or Cheyenne Mountain," Chase said. "We're going to show them they should talk about Steamboat this year."

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