2 Sailors teams play for 3rd place at state
October 18, 2008
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat’s Jeff Lambart sat on a cooler in the middle of a tennis court late Friday afternoon at Pueblo City Park, with his head buried in a towel.
The Sailors’ No. 3 singles player had given it his all in a 7-6 (4), 7-5 loss to Niwot’s Stephen Lammers. In the end, only a few points separated Lambart from his goal of climbing back into the 2008 State 4A High School Tennis Championship and getting a shot at a medal. But it wasn’t to be.
“He came up big on a couple of shots,” Lambart said after finally deciding it was time to leave the court. “I played hard and stayed in it. There is nothing else I could have done – I left it all out on the court.”
All seven Sailors players who competed Friday on the sun-soaked Pueblo courts shared that same “never give up attitude,” despite an up-and-down day for the team. The Sailors were swept out of title contention early by Kent Denver in the semifinal round, but like Lambart, the other players refused to hang their heads and walk away from this year’s tournament without a fight.
When the final round begins this morning, Lambart will not be on the court, but teammates Charlie Smith and Jack Burger will play for third place in the No. 1 doubles bracket, and Vladan Chase and Erik Sortland also will be hoping for the bronze in the No. 4 doubles bracket.
“I’m really excited to be playing,” Smith said. “(Winning Friday) wasn’t only big, but it was fun. It’s my senior year, and I want it to be the best.”
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After losing in the semifinals to Kent Denver’s Matt Carroll and James Martinez, 6-1, 6-3, Steamboat’s No. 1 team returned to the court Friday afternoon to take on Longmont’s Derek Clark and Connor Ohlsen, looking for a second chance. Smith and Burger rolled through the opening set, 6-2, but Longmont stepped up its game and won the second set in the tiebreaker, 6-7 (7).
Steamboat took the upper hand in the third set, but Longmont refused to quit.
“We bumped up the intensity and played more consistent in the final set,” Burger said.
Steamboat earned the 7-5 win and the second chance the players had been hoping to get. Steamboat faces Broomfield today for third place.
Broomfield knocked off Mullen, 6-2, 7-6 (3), to advance to today’s third-place showdown.
Steamboat’s No. 4 doubles team also earned the right to play again. The pair was beaten by Kent Denver’s Chase Procknow and James Kreidle, 6-2, 6-1, in the semifinal.
But like their teammates, the players battled back in the consolation bracket to earn a chance for third place. They will face Broomfield after beating Pueblo Central in playbacks.
“I felt a lot more confident in the afternoon. We were both playing like we did yesterday. We were a team. We were communicating, and we were playing a lot better,” Chase said after topping Pueblo Central. “(Playing the finals) is like playing a team you never played in the season. You don’t have any expectations and it should be fun. We just want to play our hardest and have no regrets. If we do that then we are going to walk off with our heads held high.”
The news wasn’t as good for the other Steamboat players.
Steamboat’s No. 2 doubles team of Mirko Erspamer and Alex Gibbs defeated Fountain Valley in the first playback match, 6-0, 6-2, but could not get past Mullen in the next round. Steamboat’s No. 3 team of Zach Valicenti and Ben Paley, and Steamboat’s No. 1 singles player, Jamey Swiggart, never got a chance for redemption because they were not pulled back into the tournament brackets.
Cheyenne Mountain holds a commanding lead in the team title race with 66 points. Kent Denver is second at 53, Broomfield in third at 44 and Mullen in fourth at 23. Steamboat currently is in fifth place with 15 points, but Niwot isn’t far behind at 11.
The state tennis tournament will come to a close today with the championship and consolation finals beginning at 9 a.m.