Bernard shines at state | SteamboatToday.com

Bernard shines at state

Sailors senior wins second singles championship

— The sky was overcast at Pueblo City Park on Saturday morning, making for a gloomy and gray start to the final day of the 2007 4A Boys State High School Tennis Championships.

Nobody could have guessed from looking around that it would turn out to be the perfect day for Steamboat Springs High School senior Ramsey Bernard, who shined on the court and won a remarkable state championship.

“Everything was working pretty well today,” Bernard said after the win – his second state title in the past four years. “I just focused on keeping my first serve percentage up and tried to keep my nerves under control.”

The plan helped him top Cheyenne Mountain’s Justin Hermes in the championship match at No. 1 singles, 6-0 and 6-2. The win makes Bernard the first Steamboat Springs tennis player to win a title in the No. 1 slot. He also can add the finish to a collection that included a state title as freshman in the No. 3 slot, a third-place finish at No. 2 as a sophomore, and a second-place finish as a junior.

“Both times I went out and played my game and ended up winning,” Bernard said of his title runs. “It’s great to win this title at No. 1 as a senior.”

The Sailors No. 1 doubles team of Charlie Smith and Alex Gibbs, and the Sailors No. 3 doubles team of Ben Paley and Zac Valicenti, joined Bernard on the court Saturday for the final round of the state tournament. Both teams were playing for third-place medals.

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Steamboat’s No. 1 doubles team came out flat in the consolation match, falling behind Montrose’s Tim Koski and Sterling Parks early in the first set. Steamboat made a run at the end of the set, but ended up losing, 6-4. The second set was much closer, and Steamboat had a chance to get back into the match at 6-5, but it didn’t happen. Montrose rallied to win the set and the match, 7-6, (4).

“I think we came in too confident because we beat them twice this season,” Smith said. “We didn’t play well in that first set, and by the time we figured it out, it was too late.”

Smith, a junior, said Saturday’s match was a learning experience.

“You can’t look past, or take, any team lightly,” Smith said. “I guess I learned that you can’t show mercy. You’ve got to come out and play your game and put teams away.”

The Sailors No. 3 team was also playing for third place Saturday, but was knocked off by a red-hot Greeley West team, 6-2, 6-3.

“We really didn’t have the intensity that we had yesterday,” Valicenti said. “It was a good experience. Placing fourth is pretty good for our first time playing here.”

Luckily for the Sailors, the team already had secured third place in the team standings before Saturday’s round began. The team picked up three points for Bernard’s win to finish with 28 total points. Cheyenne Mountain ran away with the team title for the second straight year, with 82 points, and Kent Denver finished second with 69 points. Mullen was fourth with 20 and Greeley West finished in fifth with 17.

“I’m really proud of Ramsey and all of the kids on this young team,” Coach John Aragon said after the match.

The coaches made a deal with the players that if Steamboat finished higher than third, Aragon would shave his head, and Don Toy would shave his eyebrows. Unless the players show some mercy, both coaches will have a date with a razor when the team returns to Steamboat Springs.

“To tell the truth, I’m kind of excited about losing my hair,” Aragon said. “If that’s what it takes to get the kids to step their game up a level, I’m willing to do it.”

– To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com