Sailors tennis cruises on first day of regionals

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— The Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team still has all 11 players eligible to make the state tournament, with two singles players and all four doubles teams in today's finals of the regional tournament.

Playing in hot temperatures Thursday in Delta during the opening round of the regional tournament, Steamboat showed why it's the favorite to win its fifth straight regional title by dominating.

Save for No. 1 singles player Shelby Reed - who still was at less than 100 percent because of a back injury - the Sailors didn't lose a single set all day.

Reed, who won her opening match, 6-3, 6-0, fell to a player from Vail in the semifinals. Depending on how the finals play out at No. 1 singles, Reed still has an opportunity to win a playback match and make the state tournament.

"It was a little difficult," Reed said. "It was hot, and I haven't played tennis more than an hour, even when I came back. So going out for a full match was difficult. But once I got a handle on things, it was better."

At No. 2 and 3 singles, Valerie Lezin and Claire Parsons cruised to easy victories, and both will play players from Vail in today's finals. The No. 1 doubles of Kylee Swiggart and Sara Bearss, the No. 2 doubles team of Mandy Thielemann and Hayley Richman, the No. 3 doubles team of Christi Valicenti and Kaitie Breisch and the No. 4 doubles team of Ali Diehl and Lauren Siegel all cruised in straight sets.

"Overall, it was a real solid team performance," said Steamboat coach John Aragon, whose team currently is in first place, just ahead of Vail and Aspen. "Coach (Don) Toy was with the No. 2, 3 and 4 doubles teams. He said they showed some nerves early but really settled down and played well."

Now, with all but Reed almost assured a berth at state, Aragon said the team can focus on wrapping up another regional title and work at improving seeds for the state tournament.

"There will be some really good matches" today, Aragon said. "Our young ladies are looking forward to (today), and so are the coaches. Playing to go to state just adds a lot more to it. Hopefully it's a great day, and I'm sure the kids will leave their best effort on the court."

Today's matches begin at 9 a.m.

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