Sailors aim for lucky No. 13 | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors aim for lucky No. 13

Natalie Simon swings for a ball playing last month at home in Steamboat Springs. The Sailors girls tennis team will hit the road for Grand Junction on Friday to play in the Class 3A Regional 8 tournament.

— The final stages of the season are a bit different this year for the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team. For the first time, there's a separate Class 3A state tournament, and after years of competing at the 4A level, the Sailors will this year pursue those 3A awards — first Friday and Saturday at the regional tournament in Grand Junction, then next week at the state tournament in Greeley.

Despite the differences, the goals remain the same for the Sailors: win their regional and advance as many teams as possible to state.

Steamboat will be taking the court Friday morning attempting to win its 13th consecutive regional tennis tournament.

"If they go in and play like they have, gosh, there's no reason why the full team can't qualify for state," coach John Aragon said.

Steamboat's quest to continue their era-spanning regional winning streak got a scare a year ago, when inexperience and injuries had the team looking vulnerable. It held on to win, but this year, many of the same challengers are there again. A big one, Montrose, which was second at regionals a year ago, remains in Class 4A, but Aspen, a solid third in 2016, will be there again this year.

The regional tournament will be the team's first after spring break, but Aragon said signs were mostly positive early this week in practice. Mae Thorp, a freshman and the team's No. 1 singles player, spent her break at a tennis camp in Florida, for instance, and was as sharp on the court and as enthusiastic off it as she's been.

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The only late-season change in the roster comes at No. 2 doubles. Aragon said Jordyn Hetrick won't be able to play, and Amy Speer would step in to play with Soria Rabanal. That duo played together at one of the team's last pre-break event in Loveland.

"They played well there, and if they can play like that again, they'll do well," Aragon said.

Maddie Thompson will play No. 2 singles for Steamboat. Lily Fox is in at No. 3 singles. Emmie Thompson and Natalie Simon will play No. 1 doubles, Hadley McGee and Mariah Walker will play at No. 3 doubles and Morgan Sauerbrey and Lauren Ehrlich will play at No. 4 doubles.

The top-two finishers in each bracket advance to state. A year ago, the team qualified seven players — a singles entry and three doubles teams — to the state tournament. Only two of those players return in the Thompson sisters.

Still, Aragon and the Sailors are confident as they fight for No. 13.

"We have to go out there and play without fear and leave our best out on the court, and our team should do very well," Aragon said.

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

Sailors regional lineup

No. 1 singles — Mae Thorp

No. 2 singles — Maddie Thompson

No. 3 singles — Lily Fox

No. 1 doubles — Emmie Thompson, Natalie Simon

No. 2 doubles — Soria Rabanal, Amy Speer

No. 3 doubles — Hadley McGee, Mariah Walker

No. 4 doubles — Morgan Sauerbrey, Lauren Ehrlich

Class 3A, Region 8

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