New, smaller class state awaits Sailors | SteamboatToday.com

New, smaller class state awaits Sailors

Steamboat Springs High School Sailors

— Trips to the state tournament aren't anything new for the Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team. The squad has been qualifying athletes to state annually for more than a decade.

There are some gargantuan changes in store for the squad this year, however.

Steamboat has competed in the 4A classification, traveling to Pueblo for the state tournament. The Colorado High School Activities Association added a 3A classification this year, and now Steamboat will compete there, in that division's first state tournament in Greeley.

It means a lot of things, coach John Aragon said, but mostly it means new opportunities for his athletes.

"When you think about it, the chance to medal has basically doubled," he said. "These smaller schools will have a lot more success competing against one another. It's something that was needed, and they made it happen."

The change breaks up the 4A division, which previously was the smallest division and included schools from big to very small. Now, 47 schools are in Class 3A. Steamboat is in the top half in terms of attendance, larger than about two-thirds of the schools in the new division.

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The Sailors are hoping to score big in that new division when the tournament kicks off Thursday morning.

Steamboat qualified six entries from its regional to state — three singles players and three more doubles teams. The majority of those nine athletes will be making their state tournament debuts.

One of the team's top threats at a medal, Maddie Thompson at No. 2 singles, got a tough first-round draw. Thompson's lost only once this season, to Peak to Peak sophomore Trini Somasundaram.

So who does Thompson see in the first round of the state tournament? Somasundaram.

"It's not perfect, but you have to beat everyone in your draw," Aragon said. "You might as well get a tough one out of the way right off the bat. Maddie's very tenacious, and she has what it takes to win. She's willing to work hard, so we'll see what happens."

Mae Thorp is in the No. 1 singles bracket for Steamboat. Lily Fox is at No. 3 singles. Emmie Thompson and Natalie Simon are at No. 1 doubles, Hadley McGee and Christina Hathaway at No. 3 doubles and Lauren Ehrlich and Morgan Sauerbrey at No. 4 doubles.

"They all have an opportunity," Aragon said. "If we can get everyone through that first round, we'll be very competitive. If we lose a few in that round, it will hurt."

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