Steamboat girls tennis swamped at state, exits tourney
May 11, 2012
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team's exit from the Class 4A state tournament was unceremonious. The team didn't hang around until every match was finished, as it always does. It didn't gather to cheer the tournament's medal winners, as it usually does.
There were no medal winners from Steamboat this year, unusual for a program that has established itself as one of the best on the Western Slope, if not the state.
The Sailors, swept from the championship brackets Thursday, got three playback opportunities Friday but again were summarily knocked from the competition, with all three falling in their first consolation matches.
There were stretches of solid play Friday, but they weren't enough to salvage a difficult trip to the state tournament in Pueblo.
Rachel Grubbs at No. 2 singles, Summer Smalley and Brooke Metzler at No. 3 doubles and Malia Fraioli and Katie Spencer at No. 4 doubles all got back into the tournament after losses Thursday, but none were able to take advantage.
"We just have to get better because the tournament's getting stronger," Steamboat coach John Aragon said.
Smalley and Metzler wrapped up the team's competition with a match that easily could have stood for the whole weekend.
They appeared listless and flat-footed at times, falling, 6-4, in the first set. They were on their toes and aggressive, focused and enthusiastic at other times, winning the second set, 6-4, and taking a seemingly decisive 4-3 lead in the third.
And, finally, they were on the wrong end of some well-played points, losing that late-match momentum and, in short order, the match, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, to a team from Regis Jesuit.
"They played with energy, and they had fun. It was fun to watch," Aragon said. "They were in the match and got into a position where they could have won. That didn't happen, but you can't feel bad about giving a great effort and playing a great game. When you leave the court knowing you could have done better, that's when it eats at you."
It wasn't at all what she'd planned, but Smalley said it wasn't the worst way to exit her senior year's state tennis tournament, either.
"We didn't lose because we didn't play well," she said. "We played really well today. We played our best."
Steamboat's other surviving entries also played some, but not enough, good tennis Friday.
Grubbs, playing Alyssa Powers, of Golden, was right in the match through the first set. She fell, 7-5, before the floor fell away in the second set and she lost, 6-1.
Fraioli and Spencer, meanwhile, lost in two competitive sets to a pair from Colorado Academy, 6-3, 6-3.
In the end, the two-day state tournament made for a baffling mix of tennis. Steamboat charged into the tournament with its full 11-player varsity squad, loaded with veterans in premier spots and young talent elsewhere.
The team went a combined 4-10 in two days, pushing to three sets in a loss only once. Steamboat lost matches to teams it had beaten earlier this season.
Top to bottom, it just wasn't the Sailors' year.
"For the younger girls, it's goal-setting time," Aragon said. "For our seniors, they did a super job this year bringing the team together and helping the younger players. They'll be missed."
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com