Steamboat tennis squad prepares for regional meet

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If you go

What: Regional tennis meet

When: Begins 10 a.m. today, continues Friday

Where: Canyon View Park in Grand Junction

Projected lineup

Projected Steamboat Springs High School tennis lineup

No. 1 singles — Keegan Burger

No. 2 singles — Mirko Erspamer

No. 3 singles — Jack Burger

No. 1 doubles — Kyle Rogers and Luke Farny

No. 2 doubles — Colin Green and Gabri Erspamer

No. 3 doubles — Erik Owen and Stefan Sortland

No. 4 doubles — Corbin Diehl and Lev Tsypin

2010 Sailors boys tennis schedule

— It’s pretty easy to find the driving force of the Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis team.

For a team that’s dominated the Western Slope tennis scene for more than a decade, it’s that fear of being the team that doesn’t win a regional title. The Sailors, winners of 12 straight regionals, begin the quest for No. 13 today at Canyon View Park in Grand Junction.

The first two rounds begin at 10 a.m. today. Championship and playback matches will be Friday.

“You don’t want to be the seniors that lost the streak,” said Keegan Burger, Steamboat’s No. 1 singles player, whose one loss this year came to a Class 5A opponent.

But that’s the thing with success. As each year has passed, the bull’s-eye on Steamboat’s back has gotten gradually bigger. Specifically, Montrose and Aspen are expected to present the biggest challenges to Steamboat’s reign.

Both teams feature solid singles players who should challenge the Sailors.

Steamboat beat Aspen, 4-3, in the first match of the year. Steamboat hasn’t played Montrose head-to-head, but Aspen beat Montrose, 5-2, earlier this year.

“It’s definitely going to be a little tougher,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said. “We got a lot of young players in, and some of these other schools have some older players. The big thing is how we keep our composure.”

Steamboat, for the most part, ran out an inexperienced team this year. Steamboat’s regional team is expected to consist of Keegan Burger, Mirko Erspamer and Jack Burger in the singles positions.

Kyle Rogers and Luke Farny will play No. 1 doubles, Colin Green and Gabri Erspamer will play No. 2 doubles, Erik Owen and Stefan Sortland will play No. 3 doubles, and Corbin Diehl and Lev Tsypin are expected to play No. 4 doubles.

Despite the inconsistency with the inexperienced group, Aragon said the past three weeks of matches has prepared Steamboat for tough tournaments.

In its past six matches, Steamboat has played some of the tougher competition in the state, including perennial powers Mullen and Cheyenne Mountain.

The key in any high-level tennis tournament is to start well. With two potential matches before the championship matches begin Friday, an early loss essentially eliminates players from qualifying for the state tournament.

“You have to win the first round,” said Owen, who will make his first regional appearance. “Then focus on the second round so you can get to the finals.”

The winner at each position at the regional meet qualifies for the state tennis championships. Those are Oct. 14 through 16 in Pueblo.

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

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