Sailors bound for state

The Steamboat Springs tennis team will send all three of its singles players and all four of its doubles teams to state, after the Sailors crowned five individual regional champions and got two second-place finishes to capture their sixth straight Region 8 team championship in Delta during the weekend.

It marks the third consecutive season Steamboat will send its entire team to the state tournament.

Steamboat earned 78 points to finish first in the team race. Aspen came in a distant second with 64 points, while Montrose finished third with 41 points.

Individually for the Sailors, Patrick Ayres and Taylor Reed took home regional championships, while Steamboat's doubles teams of Danny Weiss and Jon Reese, Brandon Shenfield and Jesse Speare-Schaller, and Dylan Roberts and Brian Behrman won overall titles, as well.

Steamboat's No. 1 singles player, Jonathan Solomon, came in second, as did the Sailors' No. 1 doubles team of Alex Griffing and Nick Ludolph.

The top two finishers in the regional tournament earned an invite to the 2003 State Tennis Tournament Oct. 9-11 in Pueblo.

Griffing and Ludolph had to play in a Saturday playback challenge because Aspen's pair of Alex Wells and Aaron Cummins did not face Steamboat's pair earlier in the tournament. Griffing and Ludolph won the playback match, 6-4 and 6-2, sending them to state as the second-place team behind Montrose.

Aspen's Lasse Siedenburg defeated Solomon in the finals, 6-0 and 6-1, but Solomon's earlier defeat of Cortez's third-place finisher assured Solomon of the second-place finish without a playback challenge.

Sailors coach John Aragon said Siedenburg, a German foreign exchange student, is clearly one of the state's premier singles players in Class 4A and guessed he would be in contention to finish among the top four at state.

"His style of play didn't match with Jonathan's," Aragon said. "He had slices and used the open court. He was totally a clay court European player."

While Solomon and Griffing and Ludolph had some drama in their bid to make the state tournament, the remaining players on Steamboat's varsity roster had a relatively easy go of it in Delta, winning in straight matches and straight sets.

"We play an extremely strong schedule and come down here, and it shows," Aragon said.

Although the Sailors took just one senior -- Alex Griffing -- to regionals, the youth of Steamboat's team proved age is just a number in high school tennis.

Two freshmen, five sophomores and three juniors also will be making the trip to Pueblo for the state tournament, after dominating the regional tournament.

"These kids have been playing since junior high and belong to our year-round junior program and play in that," Aragon said. "It's our junior academy that's making a difference for our kids."

Steamboat will have a short turnaround before leaving Wednesday for Pueblo. Aragon is optimistic of several of his players' chances at finish among the top four in the state in their respective slots.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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