Steamboat girls start tennis season with win over Aspen | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat girls start tennis season with win over Aspen

Austin Colbert

— Talking to Steamboat Springs High School senior Sabina Berend, it's difficult to believe she has a mean side. Even when she brought up how angry she became during her tennis match Friday at The Tennis Center, she did it with a smile on her face.

"That's the most serious I've seen her," SSHS girls' tennis coach John Aragon said. "But she really used her athleticism. It was just great to see that come out of her."

Friday was the season opener for the Sailors, who beat rival Aspen 5-2, despite the absence of a few key players. Berend was among the winners, beating Aspen's Libby Reagan at No. 3 singles, 6-3, 7-5.

Berend, who played No. 2 doubles last season and was among those to qualify for the Class 4A state tournament in 2015, had never competed as a singles player in high school until Friday night.

"I just kind of went out there with an open mind and played as hard as I could," Berend said. "It was really fun. It got a little bit intense for me. I'm not that intense of a person. I just like to have fun out there."

Berend was asked to play No. 3 singles — a spot at which she’s unsure she’ll remain throughout the season — as numerous Sailors were absent due to other obligations. Notably, the team played without seniors Surina Techarukpong and Sydney Boyd, as well as junior Emmie Thompson.

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Regardless, the Sailor reserves were able to step up and make the most of it.

"That was really a good, solid match for us," Aragon said. "People had to fill in to play varsity, and I'm really proud of all their effort."

Steamboat swept all three singles matches, led by a 7-5, 6-3 win for senior Maddie Labor over Aspen's Mary Williams at No. 1 singles. Labor — also a doubles player last season — competed at No. 1 singles for the first time, replacing defending state champion Tatum Burger, a sophomore, who is training at a tennis academy in California this spring.

After a somewhat rocky start, Labor was able to chip away at her opponent before finally getting her to break completely.

"The first five games, I definitely was not in control of my play," Labor said. "She was hitting very hard and very flat balls, and I was just not fully getting my swing through it. But once I started putting the ball in more and putting pressure on her, she started to crack."

At No. 2 singles, SSHS junior Maddie Thompson defeated Aspen's Olivia Carr, 6-2, 6-0. Aragon said she "was all business from start to finish."

The Sailors split the doubles matches, a position at which the absences hurt the most. The Sailors' No. 1 doubles team of Jessica Sandvik and Zoe Kirchner lost 6-1, 6-1, and the No. 2 doubles team of sisters Tenzing and Tshering Sherpa lost 6-2, 6-1.

The No. 3 doubles team of Natalie Simon and Jordyn Hetrick came through with a 6-1, 6-3 win, and the No. 4 doubles team of Fena Metzler and Christina Hathaway won a hard-fought 6-1, 6-4 victory.

"Those are all young players, JV players, and they stepped in to play varsity for the girls that are gone," Aragon said of the No. 1 and 2 doubles teams. "I was really, really impressed with our three and four doubles team. They are legitimate varsity players. They played without fear and were moving. That was a great early sign for us."

The Sailors are back at it Saturday morning, when Steamboat hosts Fruita Monument at The Tennis Center. This weekend's matches are the only home matches of the season for the Sailors.

Play begins at 9 a.m. Saturday with matches between Aspen and Fruita Monument, with Steamboat set to take the court around 11 a.m.

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

SSHS vs. Aspen results

1S: Maddie Labor, SSHS, defeated Mary Williams, 7-5, 6-3

2S: Maddie Thompson, SSHS, defeated Olivia Carr, 6-2, 6-0

3S: Sabina Berend, SSHS, defeated Libby Reagan, 6-3, 7-5

1D: Ali M./Nikki C., Aspen, defeated Jessica Sandvik/Zoe Kirchner, 6-1, 6-1

2D: Anna C./Courtney E., Aspen, defeated Tenzing Sherpa/Tshering Sherpa, 6-2, 6-1

3D: Natalie Simon/Jordyn Hetrick, SSHS, defeated Allura P./Kim N., 6-1, 6-3

4D: Christina Hathaway/Fena Metzler, SSHS, defeated Ayla P./Aiden M., 6-1, 6-4