Steamboat tennis sends 11 to state | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat tennis sends 11 to state

Luke Graham

Vladen Chase hits the ball during his doubles match Saturday at The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

— It started early with No. 1 singles player Jamey Swiggart, and it ended in a playback with No. 3 singles player Jeff Lambart.

In between, all 11 Steamboat Springs High School tennis players punched their ticket to the state tournament Saturday at the Western Slope Regional at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

The Sailors came away with two singles regional champions in Swiggart and No. 2 singles player Keegan Burger. Steamboat also won all four regional doubles championships.

“We’re young in the upper areas,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said. “But we’re playing with very mature games. Looking at these freshmen and sophomores, they played well. Plus we have good senior strength in the doubles.”

Steamboat rarely struggled Saturday. The team was matched up with Aspen in six of the finals and came away victorious in five of them.

Lambart lost a three-setter to Aspen’s Michael Willsky in the No. 3 singles final, but he was able to advance to state by beating Hotchkiss’ Matt Stetch in the playback.

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Maybe the most convincing win came from Swiggart. Playing Aspen’s Bryan Mehall, Swiggart won, 6-1, 6-1.

Just a month ago, Swiggart lost to Mehall.

“The first couple of games, I was really nervous,” Swiggart said. “The second match, I started taking some deep breaths and moving my feet. It got better. I started off with a bang. I’m excited for (state). I want to medal. I want to place, but I’d like to get first.”

With the day, Steamboat also won its 11th consecutive regional title. Although there were some close matches throughout – mostly from a deep Aspen team – Aragon said this is what the team expected.

“They’ve worked hard for it,” Aragon said. “It’s great to see Aspen and Montrose have solid teams. Aspen is 11 deep, and it’s great to see our kids match up with them and work for every point.”

Now Steamboat turns its attention to Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s state meet in Pueblo.

With teams such as Cheyenne Mountain, Kent Denver and Regis expected to be there, Aragon said Steamboat has to be on top of its game.

“It’s going to be a tough tournament,” Aragon said. “If we get a decent draw, come out focused and work hard for points, I think good things can happen. I believe we are a top-five team if they are willing to go out and play with a purpose and a passion.”