*Members who aren’t making the trip to Boise, Idaho, for sectionals
Steamboat Springs During the past few weeks, the women of the Steamboat Springs Tennis Center’s 3.5 Senior Red Team have been busy on the court preparing to make the most of their opportunity.
The opportunity comes in the form of an invitation to travel to Boise, Idaho, this week to play in the USTA Intermountain Senior League Sectional Championships.
It’s a surprise for the team that finished second at the district tournament and earned an invitation only after the winning team declined to play.
“It’s been a few years since a team from Steamboat Springs has played in the sectionals,” said Marci Valicenti, the Red Team’s captain. “This tournament began with over 100 teams playing in leagues across the state, then 20 at the districts, and now we are one of six teams left playing with a chance to go to nationals. That’s pretty good.”
The Steamboat team is in this position based on its showing in league play this summer and at the USTA Senior League District Championships from Sept. 9 to 11 at the Colorado Athletic Club-Inverness. The tournament featured 20 teams from across Colorado playing for the title and a chance at sectionals.
The Steamboat women won the first five matches at that tournament to advance to the finals. The local women lost to the squad from South Suburban Littleton Golf & Tennis Club in the finals to finished second. But the South Suburban team was unable to travel to Idaho, so Steamboat was awarded the invitation.
“We feel pretty good about it,” Valicenti said. “The match against SSLGT was never out of reach. It was a match we could have won.”
Nine of the local team’s 11 players will make the trip to sectionals and compete in matches against Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Nevada and Idaho. The winning team advances to the national tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., in October.
Valicenti said the composition of the Steamboat teams likely will change throughout the tournament and that all nine players who travel will compete. She said the local players have been spending a lot of time on the courts the past few weeks so they are comfortable with their teammates.
“When we started the district tournament, we had set teams,” Valicenti said. “But we kind of mixed things up as it went on, and it worked for us.”
— To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com