Steamboat senior Christi Valicenti returns a ball Friday as the Sailors routed Boulder, winning all seven matches.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat senior Christi Valicenti returns a ball Friday as the Sailors routed Boulder, winning all seven matches.

Steamboat tennis squad sweeps Boulder

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— They said they are more experienced and more emotionally prepared, and they’re confident that can make the difference this season.

The trio of seniors who stand atop the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team helped lead the squad to a perfect day Friday. The team swept Boulder High School, winning all seven matches. Those veterans said they’re hoping these early-season successes are only the start of a highlight-filled season.

“I got beat in the first round of state last year, and hopefully this year, I can be a better contender,” No. 1 singles player Christi Valicenti said, considering her perfect start to the season and solid play Friday. “I have a lot more experience under my belt, and that helps me with the players I come across.”

Neither Valicenti nor any of the other Sailors had too much trouble Friday. The team improved its dual record to 3-2 on the season, and each of the squad’s seven entries improved its record by one.

“We were really expecting a difficult match, and we went out ready to play,” No. 1 doubles player Alli Lowrie said. “We got the job done quickly.”

Valicenti, now 5-0 this season, won, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 1 singles. Rachel Grubbs won, 6-0, 6-2, at No. 2 singles. Ellie Bender won, 6-1, 6-1, at No. 3 singles. Ali Diehl and Lowrie won, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 1 doubles. Shealie Jenkins and Kira Lorenzen won, 6-2, 6-1, at No. 2 doubles. Brooke Metzler and Summer Smalley won, 6-4, 7-5, at No. 3 doubles, and Katie Spencer and Malia Fraioli won, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 4 doubles.

“Boulder’s not as strong as they’ve been,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said, trying briefly to qualify the day’s results.

He didn’t downplay the fact his team gave up just 23 games while winning 85, however.

No matter the opponent or its current strength, Friday was a good day.

“We played pretty well,” he said. “We played some good, solid matches. Overall, we played a lot better as a team than we have this season.”

Steamboat returns to the court Saturday with an 11 a.m. match at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs against Air Academy, another important early-season test for a group of Sailors with their eyes on lofty prizes.

Diehl has made state each of her three previous seasons. Earning a fourth trip still is a long ways off this season, but after coming back from a wrist injury that left her unsure whether she’d even be able to play as recently as January, she said she was excited to see the season play out.

“My wrist isn’t bothering me. My partner and I are getting along really well. This year, I’m understanding the game better and not getting so nervous or getting afraid to mess up,” she said. “I don’t know if skill-wise I’m a better player than I was a year ago because of my wrist and having to take five months off, but I think I’m more prepared.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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