Steamboat tennis sends 11 to state

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— And then there were nine.

The Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team put itself in position to win a ninth consecutive regional championship with a tremendous Thursday: All seven of the team’s entries reached the regional finals. The Sailors followed through with a fabulous Friday.

Five of the seven won to secure the regional championship, and the other two, losing grueling three-set matches, still managed to earn trips to next weekend’s state tennis tournament in Pueblo.

“It really was a great team effort from all 11 players,” coach John Aragon said. “We played as well as a team as I’ve seen us do, even though we missed out on a couple of opportunities. Even there, it wasn’t that we played bad. The other girls had to play their best tennis to beat us.”

Where Steamboat won, it made it look easy.

Rachel Grubbs won at No. 2 singles, 6-4, 6-1, and Ellie Bender won at No. 3 singles, 6-3, 6-0.

“Rachel was a little nervous at the start but stepped up in the final, and it was great to see her play well,” Aragon said. “Ellie served extremely well and hit big forehands.”

Kira Lorenzen and Shealie Jenkins won at No. 2 doubles, 6-3, 6-4, while Summer Smalley and Brooke Metzler won at No. 3 doubles, 6-3, 6-2.

“Summer, as a senior, really took over the match,” Steamboat assistant coach Don Toy said. “She was the most aggressive player on the court. Brooke was also really steady, and their maturity really proved they were worthy of the win.”

Finally, at No. 4 doubles, Katie Spencer and Malia Fraioli won, 6-2, 6-1.

Christi Valicenti, at No. 1 singles, couldn’t get by Durango’s Eva Lou Edwards, who’s won the last three matchups between the two. Valicenti did force a third set, however, eventually falling, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.

The No. 1 doubles team with Alli Lowrie and Ali Diehl lost to a pair from Aspen in similar fashion, falling, 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-3.

Steamboat finished with 83 points, plenty to hold off second-place Aspen, 54, and third-place Durango, 44.

The team now prepares for the state tournament, which begins Thursday.

“We feel good about how hard we worked and taking 11 to state,” Aragon said. “Hopefully we can step it up even more, and we will see what happens there.”

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

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