Steamboat Springs High School senior Jamey Swiggart hits a shot during his match Saturday at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School senior Jamey Swiggart hits a shot during his match Saturday at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

Steamboat tennis falls to Niwot

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Steamboat Springs High School No. 2 singles player Luke Farney hits a backhand during his match Saturday at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

— One thing remained brilliantly clear Saturday at the Steamboat Springs Tennis Center.

When it comes to Class 4A tennis and the state championships in two weeks, it’ll be no joke.

Really, it won’t.

The class is probably deeper and better than Class 5A, and if Saturday proved anything, there may not be a better team than Niwot.

Niwot cruised Saturday, beating Steamboat 6-1, including picking up a big win at No. 1 singles where defending state champion Harrison Lang beat who could be his biggest competition, Jamey Swiggart, in three sets.

“You look at Niwot, you’re looking at Cheyenne Mountain, Kent Denver, us and Colorado Academy, and that is five teams that are as good as any of the 5A teams,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said. “Class 4A is loaded.”

On Saturday, the Sailors were undone by their own errors. In each match, Steamboat seemingly had chances but undid itself.

The lone Sailors victory came at No. 2 doubles where Stefan Sortland and Kyle Rogers picked up a win.

“We got in their heads it seemed like when that happened they couldn’t come back,” Rogers said. “The one kid got angry and made a lot of mistakes. We closed out the match from there.”

By that time, however, all eyes had turned to the No. 1 singles match between Swiggart and Lang.

Lang won, 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-3, in the first match between the two. Lang controlled the pace in the first game, making Swiggart move all over the court. Swiggart won the second easily, getting himself to the net and limiting Lang’s baseline game. In the third, with Swiggart battling a left quad injury, Lang closed it out by breaking Swiggart early.

With the win, Lang all but secured the No. 1 seed going into the state tournament. But the defending state champion wouldn’t concede anything, noting this year’s state tournament should be much tougher than last year.

In addition to Lang and Swiggart, Kent Denver’s David Mitchell and Cheyenne Mountain’s Stephen Moore all should have a chance to win a state title at No. 1 singles.

“Class 4A No. 1 singles is very deep,” Lang said. “It’s better than last year and probably better than 5A. It’s going to be tougher.”

Said Swiggart, “It’ll be a lot harder to get a state title, but this year you have to deserve it.”

Steamboat next competes Thursday and Friday at the regional tournament in Grand Junction.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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