Showtime for Sailors | SteamboatToday.com

Showtime for Sailors

Steamboat tennis team blanks Vail Mountain

Melinda Mawdsley

— Natalie Nichols made the most of her singles debut.

Typically a doubles player on Steamboat Springs’ No. 2 varsity team — the Sailors have enough players for two varsity and one junior varsity tennis teams — Nichols found out Monday night that she was needed to fill in at No. 3 singles. “It was my first ever singles match,” Nichols said. “I was not expecting to win.”

Vail Mountain School’s Sarah Logan defeated Nichols easily in the first set, 6-2. But Nichols found her serve and limited her errors en route to the 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 10-6 win.

Nichols had to come from behind in the second set but led the abbreviated third set for its duration. “I decided after our first set to just push through,” Nichols said. “I just kind of stepped it up. I was not planning on winning.”

By the end of her match, Nichols had the entire Steam–boat squad rooting her on. Nichols’ win gave the Sailors a 7-0 victory against the Gore Rangers. “Steamboat is very strong,” Vail Mountain coach Hillary McSpadden said. “But the games were close.”

The Gore Rangers have three seniors, and the program is in its second year, so McSpadden is excited about the team’s potential. “Sarah, our No. 3 singles player, she was real consistent, and she is a freshman,” McSpadden said.

Recommended Stories For You

Steamboat, on the other hand, is one of the most dominant programs on the Western Slope, and its depth showed Tuesday at the renovated Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

Other than the match at No. 1 doubles, the final scores weren’t close.

Anya Salzgeber and Rebecca Timmerman and Tara King and Heidi Hillenbrand, Steamboat’s No. 2 and No. 4 doubles teams, respectively, were the first teams off the court Tuesday. Lisa Floyd, the Sailors No. 2 singles player, quickly followed. The five players dropped only three games combined.

Floyd was hoping to practice her serve-and-volley game Tuesday, but Lara Green struggled to return Floyd’s dominant serve, so Floyd changed her focus. “I worked on getting my serves in and to spin it in,” she said.

Floyd was coming off an impressive win at the Mullen Tournament, where she beat girls from Denver South, Mullen and Ralston Valley.

“I hit really well,” she said. “The girls I played were tough players.”

After struggling early in the opening set Tuesday, Breanne Murray, Steamboat’s top singles player, settled in on the court nearest the home fans, mixing up her baseline winners with great approach shots at the net.

“This was my first home match this season,” Murray said. “I was nervous. I just needed to breathe.”

Steamboat stays at home for the rest of the week, hosting Glenwood Springs at 4 p.m. Friday and Columbine and Doherty at 11 a.m. Saturday. All matches will be indoors on the new hard courts at the Tennis Center.