Steamboat sweep | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat sweep

Sailors rack up victories to win region, send team to state

Melinda Mawdsley

Dylan Roberts plays in Steamboat red and black, but he wears a Boston Red Sox hat. On Saturday, the Steamboat sophomore, along with partner junior Brian Behrman, displayed a little Boston grit to win the regional tennis championship against Chance Jacob and Sterling Parks of Montrose.

The pair, who are in their second year of playing together, easily won the first set, 6-3, but had to rally in the second-set tiebreak to claim a regional championship. Steamboat won all three singles and all four doubles championships in straight sets Saturday at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

Jacob and Parks broke Roberts’ serve to even the set at 6-6, sending it into a tiebreak. In high school tennis, a tiebreak is to seven points but a team must win by two. Montrose pulled out to a 4-0 lead before Steamboat evened it up at 5-5 on a hard forehand from Roberts. The Sailors won the next two points, and the match ended, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), when the Indians double faulted on match point.

Behrman and Roberts’ win ensured that each Steamboat varsity player will head to the Class 4A State Tennis Tournament next week in Pueblo as regional champions.

Brackets for the tournament will be released Monday on the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Web site at http://www.chsaa.org.

“This is probably one of the better teams we’ve ever had, talent-wise,” Sailors coach Don Toy said.

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Steamboat showed no mercy Saturday, winning each match in straight sets. Most matches weren’t even close. Freshman Ramsey Bernard, the No. 3 singles player, and the No. 1 doubles team of seniors Jonathan Solomon and Patrick Ayres weren’t on the court for more than 30 minutes Saturday.

Bernard took the court after the No. 2 doubles team of Brian Aragon and Jon Reese began playing. Bernard was done before his teammates wrapped up their match. Bernard was the first Steamboat regional champion crowned.

But the freshman has played like a varsity veteran this season, defeating Montrose’s Nick Webb, 6-0, 6-0.

“I’ve been going to tournaments out of state for a long time,” Bernard said. “I’m confident. I think I’ll do well at state, but there’s a line between being confident and cocky. You have to be sure you don’t cross it.”

Confidence isn’t lacking in Ayres and Solomon either. The two have several years of singles experience, and it shows. Both are skilled at the net, on the baseline and behind the service line. They defeated Aspen’s Aaron Cummins and Andy MacCracken, 6-0, 6-0 to win the No. 1 doubles title.

Aragon, a sophomore, and Reese, a junior, didn’t have a tough match either, defeating Sean Gueck and Austin Manak of Montrose, 6-2, 6-1.

The Sailors’ other three matches, however, were closer — at least for one set.

At No. 1 singles, Walker Loetscher defeated Montezuma-Cortez’s Sean Hollar, 7-5, 6-1, in one of the most exciting match-ups of the afternoon.

In the first set, both Loetscher and Hollar held serve through five games before Loetscher found an opening and took advantage to break Hollar and go up 6-5. Loetscher, a lefthander with a dominating serve, easily held serve to win the

first set. He took control in the second.

Loetscher said it’s common for top professional players to break serve near the end of sets and capitalize with their serve. On Saturday, he fed of Hollar’s emotional swings and attacked when he saw a window.

“In that second set, I knew he would start to hit sporadically,” Loetscher said. “I was serving very well.”

Bernard, who hits with Loetscher during practice, said Loetscher’s serve is intimidating for players who have not faced him.

“He puts more spin on the ball than a usual serve has,” Bernard said.

At No. 3 doubles, junior Nick Ludolph and sophomore Jesse Schaller defeated Montrose’s Drew Shrum and Evan Wieland, the top seed, 6-4, 6-2.

At No. 2 singles, junior Taylor Reed defeated Cortez’s James Lujan, 6-0, 6-4, in a match that was just the opposite of Loetscher’s. After dominating the first set, Reed jumped out to a quick lead in the second before Lujan rallied to 5-4, but on serve Reed closed it out with an aggressive, well-placed forehand on match point.

“I’m trying to be more aggressive, and I closed it out at the end,” Reed said. “I played great this weekend.”

Reed and Behrman are from Craig, and Loetscher is from the Vail area; Toy said the dynamic the three bring to the team is positive.

“Anytime you can reinforce that there are great kids everywhere is great,” he said.

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