Steamboat Junior Academy tennis players win titles in Vail

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— A group of tennis players from the Steamboat Junior Academy returned from Vail last weekend loaded down with titles, but coach John Aragon insists that winning wasn’t the trip’s primary mission.

“We just wanted to go there and learn how to play, how to compete and to have some fun,” Aragon said. “I think with this age group, you have to go into a tournament with the right attitude. This isn’t about winning. It’s about gaining experience, getting better and meeting players from outside of Steamboat Springs.”

That approach didn’t stop top local players from earning titles in the boys and girls divisions at the Vail Cascade Junior Satellite tournament held from Friday to Sunday.

Top finishers included Quinn Snyder in the boys 10 singles, which are played on a smaller court designed for younger players. Charlie Smith brought home the title in the boys 12 singles, and Tatum Burger won the girls 12 singles. In the doubles brackets, Hayden Snyder and Charlie Smith teamed up to win the boys 12 division, and Tami Katthain and Tatum Burger won the girls 12 division.

Steamboat’s Teague Burger also made the trip and chose to play up a couple of age divisions. He didn’t win a title, but Aragon said the 9-year-old played well in the boys 12 division.

Aragon said he wasn’t surprised by the Steamboat program’s success at the tournament or the growing trend to travel to out-of-town competitions. It’s something the coach thinks will benefit the players who get a chance to compete against other juniors across the state, and the future of the tennis programs in Steamboat Springs.

“Going to tournaments and playing new opponents is only going to make these juniors stronger tennis players, and will someday help out high school programs,” Aragon said. “It isn’t about winning, but learning how to play the game and how to compete against players they don’t see every week at the academy.”

Aragon said that six players from the Steamboat Junior Academy made the trip to Vail and that he’s already seen increased interest from other players who want to travel to out-of-town events.

— To reach John F. Russell call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com

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