Gore Rangers tennis takes second at regionals
Vail, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION ” Even before they took to the court Friday at regionals in Grand Junction, the Vail Mountain tennis team was destined to make school history thanks to its near-perfect performance Thursday.
With all singles players and three of four doubles teams in the finals, and another doubles team in the playback finals, the Gore Rangers had a chance to send everyone to the state tournament. After some early losses, Vail Mountain rebounded and all three singles players along with a pair of doubles teams will be on the court again next week in Pueblo for the state championships.
“We’re very excited,” said first-year Vail Mountain coach Derek Fisher. “To have five going to state is awesome. And we got second place as a team ” they’ve never placed anywhere near that at regionals.”
Vail Mountain held a lead over Steamboat heading into Friday, but lost five matches to the Sailors in the finals. The Gore Rangers finished with 66 points, while the Sailors had 84.
“I’m so proud of the girls. Everyone has worked so hard, and it’s paying off,” said senior co-captain Stephanie Miletich. “We’re proving to everyone that the hard work has been worth it.”
At the No. 1 singles, Shannen McNamara started slow in her finals match against Montrose’s May May Vickers, but battled back in the second set of a 6-1, 7-5 loss.
“It was more of a mind game between her and me,” McNamara said. “In the second set, I figured out how to get her angry. I was down 3-0 at first. It felt good to come back.”
Half an hour after her loss in the finals, McNamara had to go up against the winner of the playback bracket to determine who would move on to state. McNamara, a sophomore, won, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to qualify for her first state tournament.
Sarah Logan, the No. 3 singles player, shook off a 6-0, 6-0 defeat in the finals, and then punched her first-ever ticket to state with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 win in her playback match.
“I was fine with (the loss),” said Logan, a junior. “In the playback I didn’t play well in the first set, but then in the other two, I got an adrenaline rush. My teammates were all cheering me on.”
Miletich dropped her finals match, 6-4, 6-1, but had already defeated the No. 3 finisher earlier in the tournament and did not have to take her on in a playback.
“I really wanted to pull through, and I did my best, but it just didn’t go my way,” Miletich said. “It was a bit windy and I let my temper control me a little. I get very emotional. It was tough, but I really learned the importance of controlling my emotions and being patient. I was trying really hard to finish the point and make lots of winners.”
The No. 1 doubles team of Beri Dwyer and Cynthia Edgerton finished fourth, while the No. 2 team of Kendall Gotthelf and Hannah Ellison dropped a hard-fought match to Steamboat in three sets in the finals. In their playback match against Montrose, the Vail Mountain No. 2 duo battled hard, but couldn’t come through.
“Hannah was in a lot of pain,” Miletich said. “It was heart breaking to watch them lose. We all know Kendall (the other co-captain) really wanted to go to state, and Hannah did just as much, too.”
Both the No. 3 (Adi Slifer and Claire Sunderland) and No. 4 (Jessica Gilbert and Sheena Feiler) doubles teams dropped their finals matches to Steamboat, but qualified for state. Sunderland qualified for state last year with her then-doubles partner and sister, Sophie.
“We have to give major props to our coaches, Derek and Jeff (Sandoval), who have been amazing to us,” Miletich said. “We wouldn’t have been able to come this far without them.”
And the Gore Rangers may go even further when they are back on the court Thursday.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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