Steamboat Springs High School tennis player Vladan Chase and his No. 2 doubles partner Max Roder will try to help the Sailors earn a 12th consecutive regional title in Delta. The regional tournament begins today and runs through Friday.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Springs High School tennis player Vladan Chase and his No. 2 doubles partner Max Roder will try to help the Sailors earn a 12th consecutive regional title in Delta. The regional tournament begins today and runs through Friday.

Steamboat tennis looking for 12th regional title

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Lineup

Steamboat Springs High School tennis lineup for regionals

No. 1 singles - Jamey Swiggart

No. 2 singles - Keegan Burger

No. 3 singles - Mirko Erspamer

No. 1 doubles - Jeff Lambart and Jack Burger

No. 2 doubles - Vladan Chase and Max Roder

No. 3 doubles - Luke Farny and Callum Richman

No. 4 doubles - Kyle Rogers and Gabri Erspamer

— It's never any secret what the goal of the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team is when it takes the court at the regional tournament.

In fact, that goal hasn't changed - or gone unreached - in the past 11 seasons.

The Sailors will look for their 12th consecutive regional title today in Delta on the first day of the regional tournament.

The tournament continues through Friday.

"Win it. We're going to win it," Steamboat senior Vladan Chase said. "We're the best team there; it's just about playing our game. But it's all dependent on the day. You can't be overconfident. You have to go in and play your game."

Steamboat enters the tournament as the favorite.

The team finished the year 9-2 in head-to-head matches, the lone losses coming to perennial powers Kent Denver and Boulder.

But that means, as it has for the better part of the decade, that no players in the region have a bigger bull's-eye on them than the Sailors.

"There is definitely a target on our backs," Steamboat senior Jeff Lambart said. "Every team there is gunning for Steamboat because that would be a huge win for their program."

Steamboat's biggest competition probably will come from Aspen and Montrose. Although Steamboat has seen little of Montrose this season, the team is more than familiar with Aspen.

The Sailors beat the Skiers in Aspen, 6-1, on Sept. 19.

Steamboat's lone loss came at No. 3 doubles where Callum Richman and Luke Farny won the first set, 6-2, before dropping the next two, 6-4, 6-0.

Coach John Aragon said that loss wouldn't hinder the Sailors. What might, however, is the health of the team.

Steamboat No. 1 singles player Jamey Swiggart and No. 2 singles player Keegan Burger have been battling a strain of the flu virus.

Each is at the tail end of it, and both confirmed Wednesday that they'd be up for playing today.

It will be instrumental for Steamboat to get through the regional tournament if the team hopes to reach its lofty goals at the state tournament Oct. 15, 16 and 17 in Pueblo.

There, Aragon said, he thinks he has a team that can get into the top five and potentially the top three.

But to do that, the Sailors must get all 11 players through the regional tournament.

Perhaps the best thing that could have happened to Steamboat was last week's 0-6 loss to Kent Denver.

The team had been rolling and saw firsthand what it takes to play at such a high level.

"It was a big wake-up call," Aragon said. "For every match and opponent, whether it's the state's best or the weakest team you play, you have to mentally prepare yourself and use your level of play to dictate what happens in that match."

For Steamboat, that means getting through today with opportunities for all 11 players to get to the state tournament.

"This is a team that could win it if we field 11 at state and play our game," Chase said. "It's all about playing the best tennis we can. If you do that, you walk off the court with your head high. That's what it's all about."

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

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