Steamboat tennis romps in Grand Junction |

Steamboat tennis romps in Grand Junction

Sailors girls all advance to finals

Luke Graham

— Nothing out of the ordinary happened Thursday in Grand Junction. 

The weather was more than nice, the college was wrapping up classes, and the Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team was doing what it always does at the regional tournament.

The Sailors, winners of six straight regional titles, advanced all three singles players and four doubles teams to today's finals.

"It was just a really solid day of tennis," Steamboat coach John Aragon said. 

It was almost perfect, too. 

Each Steamboat player and team breezed through two matches Thursday in straight sets. 

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No. 1 singles player Christi Valicenti, No. 2 singles player Rachelle Steele-Cerone and No. 3 singles player Claire Parsons all won in straight sets.

The No. 1 doubles team of Lauren Siegel and Ali Diehl, the No. 2 doubles team of Ellie Bender and Kaitie Breisch and the No. 3 doubles team of Alli Lowrie and Rachel Grubbs also advanced in straight sets. 

The No. 4 doubles team of Summer Smalley and Maria Hillenbrand lost the first set to a team from Durango in the semifinals before rebounding for the win. Smalley and Hillenbrand lost earlier in the season to the same Durango team, but played some of their best tennis of the year Thursday. 

"We lost a match to them earlier," Hillenbrand said. "We knew it was going to be a harder match than we played earlier. But we were excited to prove that we improved."

Now the focus is on today's final matches.

Steamboat is in a great position to win its seventh straight regional title. Although that's almost a foregone conclusion, the real story is if Steamboat can advance all its players to state. 

The top two individuals and teams in each spot qualify for state. 

With wins today, Steamboat will automatically qualify. If the team loses, it will have to play a playback match with the third-place team if it hasn't already beaten that team. 

What that means, though, is Steamboat is in a great place to advance all of its team to the state tournament and have a shot to place in the top five as a team. 

"We just played unbelievably well," Aragon said. "I think that they were prepared to play, and all of them obviously wanted to be in the finals. We had a great warm up, and it was contagious. The girls played awesome tennis. Hopefully, we can repeat that" today. 

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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