Steamboat Springs tennis team snaps regional title streak

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— The streak is over.

After 14 years of regional championships, Aspen won what essentially became a head-to-head match Saturday in Grand Junction, taking four of six matches.

The Skiers beat the Sailors by a mere six points, making Aspen the first team to beat Steamboat in more than a decade.

“Our goal all along was to win regionals,” Steamboat coach Don Toy said. “I thought we’d do it. I thought it would be dang close. We just needed one more win.”

The good news is Steamboat qualified all seven slots for the state championships Thursday through Saturday in Pueblo.

The No. 1 doubles team of Corbin Diehl and Ben Wharton emerged as regional champions, winning in straight sets. The No. 3 doubles team of Zach Dunklin and Joe Borgerding also won a regional championship in nail-biting fashion.

Dunklin and Borgerding lost the first set and won the second in a tiebreaker. After falling 2-0 in the third set, the two rallied to win.

Colin Green, at No. 1 singles, lost to a player from Durango while No. 2 singles player Gabri Erspamer, No. 3 singles player Stefan Sortland, the No. 2 doubles team of Quinn Cain and Nick Mathews and the No. 4 doubles team of Matthew White and Aiden Gibbs lost to opponents from Aspen.

“It’s a little double-edged sword there,” Toy said. “I’m proud of the kids. It wasn’t for a lack of effort. Aspen came out strong in a couple spots there. We wanted to win regionals, but we’re happy we got everyone to state.”

Especially encouraging, Toy said, was the team of White and Gibbs. The two came into the regional tournament with a combined 0-10 record.

After two wins Friday, the two will make their improbable debut at state next week.

“We move on,” Toy said. “Sometimes, you look at the big picture. You can’t always win. We congratulated Aspen, and we’ll move on and get ready for next week.”

The Class 4A state championship tournament in Pueblo begins Thursday and continues through Saturday.

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

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