Sailors girls tennis season gets going Friday against Aspen | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors girls tennis season gets going Friday against Aspen

Austin Colbert

Steamboat Springs High School senior Maddie Labor practices Thursday inside The Tennis Center. The Sailor girls' tennis team gets its season underway Friday against Aspen.

— How big are the shoes Steamboat Springs High School senior Maddie Labor is about to fill?

"The biggest," she said.

Friday night marks the start of the SSHS girls' tennis season, and this year, the Sailors will look quite different from the team that sent 11 to state last spring.

The most notable subtraction is sophomore Tatum Burger, who became the first Sailor player to win a state title since 2009 when she won the Class 4A tennis tournament at No. 1 singles as a freshman.

"I'm excited, but at the same time, a little bit nervous," said Labor, who will inherit the No. 1 singles spot this season. "Every time I'm going to step out on the court, those opponents are going to be waiting for Tatum, and I'm going to show up."

Burger, along with her twin sister, Shae — who played No. 3 doubles last year — is in California this spring at a tennis academy and will miss the entire season. While Burger is missing out on a chance to be a rare, four-time state champion, she is gaining an opportunity few are afforded.

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And the absence of both Burger girls this season has certainly caused a major upheaval for those still in Steamboat.

"We are just going to have to regroup and get out and get after it," SSHS coach John Aragon said. "Maddie Labor and a lot of these girls, they know they just have to step up. To me, I was real impressed with how they came up and they were, 'Let's get on with it, coach.' That's what you got to do."

Labor, who is signed to play volleyball at Regis University in Denver in the fall, was part of the No. 1 doubles team with then-senior Hanna Haggarty last season. As a sophomore, she was the No. 3 singles player, so playing solo isn't foreign to her, but playing No. 1 is a little more difficult than No. 3.

"It's going to be really fun and really challenging," Labor said. "One singles is a lot different than three singles. It's consistency and power. I am a very powerful hitter, but I'm an inconsistent hitter, so that's something I have to work on."

Much of the remainder of the lineup remains in doubt. Junior Maddie Thompson appears the best bet to be at No. 2 singles, and senior Sabina Berend may be at No. 3 singles or possibly No. 1 doubles.

"We have a lot of players coming in as freshmen that are solid," Aragon said. "Everybody is going to move up in the lineup. The way I look at it is, there are two more kids that are going to get a chance to play."

The Sailors begin their season this weekend with their only two home matches of the year. At 5 p.m. Friday at The Tennis Center, Steamboat will host Aspen. Beginning around 11 a.m. Saturday, the Sailors will then host Fruita Monument. Aspen and Fruita Monument will play each other beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The Sailors are expected to be without a few key players who have other commitments this weekend.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

2016 SSHS girls tennis schedule

Friday vs. Aspen, in Steamboat, 5 p.m.

Saturday vs. Fruita Monument, in Steamboat, 11 a.m.

March 10 @ Durango (at Grand Junction)

March 11-12 @ Grand Junction tournament

March 15 @ Evergreen

March 25 @ Fossil Ridge

March 26 @ Thompson Valley

April 1 @ Vail Mountain/Grand Junction (at Grand Junction)

April 8 @ Cheyenne Mountain

April 15 @ Air Academy/Ralston Valley (at Ralston Valley)

May 5-6 @ Regionals (at Grand Junction)