Gore Rangers on top at regionals
Vail, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” The Vail Mountain tennis team plowed through its opponents Thursday during districts in Grand Junction, winning all but one match to move into first place.
“It went as well as we could have dreamed it could have gone,” Gore Rangers coach Derek Fisher said. “The girls exceeded our expectations.”
Six of the seven Vail Mountain teams (singles and doubles) advanced to today’s finals, with five of those matchups coming against second-place Steamboat. The Gore Rangers lead the Sailors by a slim three-point margin.
“I felt everyone has improved so much,” Fisher said. “We had a good shot of getting everyone through, but then I realized that for a couple girls, this is their first season.”
But the Gore Rangers came through in the clutch Thursday, beating teams to whom they’d previously lost and undefeated teams, as well.
“From the first match of the year against Steamboat, the improvement has been unbelievable,” Fisher said.
At the No. 1 singles, Shannen McNamara beat her Aspen opponent in the second round, 6-2, 6-1, then beat a Steamboat girl, 6-1, 6-1, in the semifinals. All Vail Mountain singles players and three doubles teams had first-round byes. McNamara will face a highly touted May May Vickers, of Montrose, in the finals.
“We’re really looking forward to that,” Fisher said. “We’ve been working on Shannen’s game geared toward May.”
Stephanie Miletich cruised into the No. 2 singles final, winning her second-round match, 6-0, 6-1, then her semifinals match, 6-1, 6-0. Miletich will face Shelby Reed, of Steamboat, in the finals and will look to avenge her only loss of the season.
Sarah Logan, playing the No. 3 singles for Vail Mountain, dispatched her Aspen opponent in the second round, 6-4, 6-1, then beat a Delta girl, 6-3, 6-0, in the semifinals.
An injury to No. 1 doubles player Calle Tappe forced Fisher to switch his lineup, but the new pair still found considerable success.
Beri Dwyer and replacement Cynthia Edgerton beat their first-round No. 1 doubles opponents from Hotchkiss, 7-5, 6-3, but fell to Montrose, 6-3, 6-2, in the second round. In the playbacks, Dwyer and Edgerton dominated a Delta pair, 6-1, 6-0, and they will face Roaring Fork in the playback finals.
“We’re really proud of them. Cynthia played awesome,” said Kendall Gotthelf, who had played with Edgerton before at the No. 2 doubles.
Gotthelf and her regular No. 2 doubles partner, Hannah Ellison, pushed to the semifinals with a 6-1, 6-0 win, where they faced an unbeaten Aspen duo and came up on top, 6-3, 6-2.
“They beat us a week ago, so it was good to even out the score and get a win,” Gotthelf said.
Adi Slifer and Claire Sunderland advanced to the No. 3 doubles finals with a 6-0, 7-5 win against Aspen in the semifinals; they beat a Cortez duo, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round and will face Steamboat in the finals.
And the No. 4 doubles team of Jessica Gilbert and Sheena Feiler went the distance in the semis, coming from behind to beat a Delta squad, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (8-6). Earlier in the day, the Vail Mountain pair beat Glenwood, 6-3, 6-2.
“The Glenwood team just annihilated us earlier this year,” Fisher said. “Those girls had a great day.”
While Steamboat beat Vail Mountain earlier this year as a team, the Gore Rangers are excited about the five head-to-head matchups today.
“It’ll be a good challenge, and we’re all mentally prepared,” Gotthelf said. “We’re ready to go out there and give it all.”
At each singles and doubles level, the top two finishers advance to state. The winner of the playback matches, however, can challenge the finals losers, if they have not already played them, to determine who will then go to the state tournament.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.