Sailors make it 11 in a row with win at regional tennis |

Sailors make it 11 in a row with win at regional tennis

— On the surface there's a bit of inevitability to the Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team’s annual trip to the regional tournament.

The Sailors have emerged as champions there for 11 consecutive years, picking up the most recent victory Friday thanks to a dominating performance at the two-day Grand Junction tournament.

Still, the team said it's never quite as easy as that streak makes it look.

"Warming up, I did not know how this would go," said Steamboat's No. 2 singles player, Kira Lorenzen. "I thought it could go either way, it just depended on how everyone did that day."

Turns out, everyone for Steamboat did pretty well and the coin again flipped in their favor.

The Sailors won regional championships in four divisions.

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Ellie Bender won at No. 1 singles, defeating a Montrose opponent, 6-1, 6-4. Maddie Labor beat her Glenwood Springs competition at No. 3 singles. Hanna Haggarty and Emmie Thompson won at No. 1 doubles, 6-4, 7-6(4), and Sydney Boyd and Shannon Ross won at No. 3 doubles, 6-0, 6-2.

"It was definitely more challenging that last year," said Bender, set to make her fourth appearance at state, but her first as the team's top No. 1 singles player.

She battled from behind in many of her matches during the regional tournament and that added something new to the feeling of advancing to the season's final weekend.

"State will be a huge challenge and I'm just fortunate to make it past regionals," she said. "I'm feeling pretty lucky right now."

She'll have plenty of company. In addition to the team's regional champions, the Sailors qualified three more entries, meaning the entire team will make the trip next week to play in Pueblo.

Lorenzen placed second at No. 2 singles, falling in the championship, 6-1, 1-6, 4-6. Lily Petersen and Maddie Thompson lost in the championship round but defended their spot at state in a playback match to earn the trip at No. 2 doubles, winning to secure the spot, 6-2, 6-2.

Finally, the No. 4 doubles team with Jessie Selby and Emma Wilson had to dig deep to earn that trip to state. They finished third, which would have left them out, but won a playback opportunity, 6-2, 6-4.

"It means a lot to be on a team going to state," Labor said. "It's humbling. You don't think you're going to go, and when you finally get it, you're really excited and happy that all the work paid off."

Steamboat finished with 85 points, ahead of Montrose in second with 43 and Aspen, third with 41.

"From the start of the season to where these kids are right now, these kids showed as much improvement as I've ever seen from any young team," Steamboat coach John Aragon said. "We had six girls in the regional tournament who had never been there before and boy did they handle the pressure well."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

2014 Girls Tennis Regional Standings

1. Steamboat 85

2. Montrose 43

3. Aspen 41

4. Durango 27

5. Glenwood Springs 24

6. Cedar Ridge 19

7. Hotchkiss 16

8. Vail Mountain 14

9. Montazuma-Cortez 11

10. Roaring Fork 11

11. Delta 6

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