Gore Rangers serving up opposition
Vail, CO Colorado
Life for the Mountain tennis team just keeps getting better.
After cruising through some dual matches early in the season, the Gore Rangers won the Delta Invitational Tournament two weeks ago. And now? Well, 6 a.m. practices have given way to 4 p.m. court times.
“The girls are a lot more motivated now that the weather is nice,” said senior co-captain and No. 2 singles player Stephanie Miletich.
Everyone appears to be coming together at just the right time as the Eagle County-wide team gears up for regionals next week in Grand Junction. But first, the Gore Rangers look to take care of business in their final home dual match of the season today when they host Aspen at the Homestead Court Club in Edwards at 4 p.m.
“They’ll be a pretty strong team ” they’ll be some good competition to send us off to regionals,” Miletich said.
The Gore Rangers, who have athletes from Vail Mountain, Battle Mountain, Vail Christian and Eagle Valley, started their season off with a dual loss to a tough Steamboat Springs team, but haven’t fallen as a team since.
“Our team got a lot better,” said Shannen McNamara, a sophomore who plays No. 1 singles. “We have a lot of new players and everyone has improved. And we’ve really stepped it up in practice.”
Along with a bevy of new players, the Gore Rangers picked up a new head coach ” Derek Fisher.
“He’s teaching us new techniques and focusing on certain parts of our game,” McNamara said.
Miletich, who has played since her freshman year, is excited to have Fisher at the helm.
“He’s been awesome,” she said. “We’ve had a different coach every year, but he’s working really hard to make improvements and looking to the future of our team, which is great. We haven’t had that before.”
The Gore Rangers took down Delta, Glenwood Springs, Hotchkiss and Paonia in league play, while amassing an impressive 24-11 individual match record. But the biggest win, though, came in Delta two weeks ago.
“We’ve never won a tournament (in her four years),” Miletich said. “Everyone did really well.”
Miletich cruised to a first-place finish at the Delta Tournament with three wins, while No. 3 singles Sarah Logan dismissed all four of her opponents to take the top spot, but not without a bit of suspense in the finals ” 3 hours and 20 minutes worth.
“She had a really tough match where each point had about 90 volleys,” Miletich said of Logan. “But she won and that really helped us pull through.”
Beri Dwyer and Callie Tappe were flawless (4-0) in capturing the No. 1 doubles crown, while the No. 3 duo of Adi Slifer and Claire Sunderland (3-0) also came up on top. McNamara didn’t lose a set on her way into the finals, but fell to a tough Montrose opponent, 6-0, 6-2 in the championship match.
Co-captain Kendal Gotthelf and partner Cynthia Edgerton (3-1) grabbed third while the No. 4 pair of Jessica Gilbert and Sheena Feiler (2-2) took fourth. The Gore Rangers beat out 10 other squads and went 22-4 individually.
“Everyone played so well and the whole team was pumping each other up,” McNamara said.
Earlier in the season, the Gore Rangers were confined to the indoor courts for their 6 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday practices.
“It was hard, but you get used to it,” said McNamara, who along with Miletich attended a tennis academy in Grand Junction from August to December.
At regionals, the Gore Rangers look to make more noise, and take some matches from Steamboat.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.
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