Ellie Bender returns a shot during a match against Vail Mountain's Courtney Thomas on Tuesday afternoon at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Bender won the match, 6-3, 6-4, and the Sailors swept the Gore Rangers, 7-0.

Photo by John F. Russell

Ellie Bender returns a shot during a match against Vail Mountain's Courtney Thomas on Tuesday afternoon at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Bender won the match, 6-3, 6-4, and the Sailors swept the Gore Rangers, 7-0.

Steamboat girls tennis team cruises past Vail Mountain at home

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Steamboat Springs' Shannon Ross returns a shot during a match against Vail Mountain's Courtney Thomas Tuesday afternoon at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Ross and teammate Sydney Boyd won the match, 6-0, 6-1, and the Sailors swept the Gore Rangers, 7-0.

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Steamboat Springs' Sydney Boyd returns a shot during a match against Vail Mountain's Courtney Thomas on Tuesday afternoon at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Boyd and teammate Shannon Ross won the match, 6-0, 6-1, and the Sailors swept the Gore Rangers, 7-0.

— It took tennis player Ellie Bender a little longer than she wanted, but her 6-3, 6-4 victory was key to the Steamboat Springs High School’s sweep of Vail Mountain on Tuesday afternoon at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

“I was just not in the game,” Bender said about her match against Courtney Thomas. “I just wasn’t feeling it today ... was just hitting to get it over and not hitting to win.”

Despite the fact that Bender was not on top of her game, she was able to top Vail Mountain’s No. 1 player 6-3 in the first set, and then she put the match away with a 6-4 in the second set.

“It’s a good setup for regional tournament,” Bender said. “I needed the win, but I need to keep working toward regional.”

While the head-to-head match wasn’t the Sailors' most competitive, Sailors head coach John Aragon said the system used for regional seeding makes these conference matches very important to the players' end-of-season placements.

“These girls are working hard,” Aragon said. “I really like the chemistry that's starting to come together right now.”

Steamboat swept through Tuesday’s tournament with Bender taking the point at the No. 1 spot. Teammate Kira Lorenzen topped Vail’s Kiley Martinez, 6-0, 6-0, to take the No. 2 position and Maddie Labor topped Vail’s Regina Hernandez, 6-0, 6-0, to pick up a point at No. 3 singles.

"I served well, and I’m beginning to do a lot more placement rather than just focusing on hitting the hard balls,” Lorenzen said about her match. “This is the first match where I started playing my level against a player who was not at my level. I was happy with the way I performed on the court today.”

Steamboat’s doubles teams were also happy with the way they performed by winning at the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 positions.

Steamboat’s Hanna Haggarty and Emmie Thompson topped Vail’s Erica Charles and Ali Plzak, 6-0, 6-1; Steamboat’s Sabina Berend and Maddie Thompson topped Anna Skelton and Valentina Viron, 6-3, 6-0; Steamboat’s Sydney Boyd and Shannon Ross handled Vail’s Maddy Bryant and Emma Cerovich, 6-0, 6-1; and Steamboat’s Emma Wilson and Jessie Selby topped Vail’s Haley DeGraff and Ella Mueller, 6-0, 6-1.

The win improves the Sailors' record to 7-2 this season with two remaining matches and a tournament before the regional tournament.

Steamboat will play Lakewood at 2 p.m. Friday and Ralston Valley at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“I’m definitely focusing on winning at the regional tournament and making it to state,” Lorenzen said. “I’m really happy with where we are at right now. We had a slow start; we lost some players at the beginning. ... I’m really proud of where everyone is right now. I’m excited that we are getting along as a team and there is no drama. It’s really nice.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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