Sailors look for state senior surge | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors look for state senior surge

Steamboat Springs Jack Bender returns a shot during a match against Grand Junction earlier this season. Bender will be one of seven seniors who will compete at the state this weekend.

— The Steamboat Springs High School boys tennis team beat its biggest rival and won the regional championship last week, in the process sending all of its athletes to the state tournament in Pueblo.

Now at that tournament, where play starts Thursday, the Sailors are up against a whole new level of challenge.

"This is going to be a big jump in terms of talent we'll be seeing," coach Joseph O'Dell said.

His hope is that a tough regular season schedule that included both big-time tournaments and duals against some of the state's best teams has the Sailors prepared for the state tournament.

The Sailors will be senior heavy in Pueblo, starting with all three singles players. Charlie Smith will play at No. 1 singles, Chase Adams at No. 2 and Nolan Connell at No. 3.

Ethan Paulus, a sophomore, and Max Lynch, a senior, will be in at No. 1 doubles. River Fox-Welch, a senior, and Wyatt Stempel, a freshman, are at No. 2 doubles. Peter Wharton and Jack Bender, both seniors, are at No. 3 doubles and Gabe Rabanal, a freshman, and Roy Lundeen, a sophomore are at No. 4 doubles.

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O'Dell said there's plenty of opportunity from the top of the roster to the bottom, especially in the doubles ranks, and especially in those seniors.

"Peter and Jack, they've played No. 4 doubles the previous three years, but they're just as good as my No. 1 and No. 2 doubles guys," O'Dell said. "All of our doubles should do pretty well. We have some very solid teams there, and we've worked on a lot of doubles strategy. We have great team chemistry and that's huge."

Play in the tournament starts Thursday with the first two rounds. The semifinals and the bulk of the consolation bracket are set for Friday and the finals and consolation finals for Saturday.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9