Sailors still in hunt |

Sailors still in hunt

John Russell/Special to the DailyVail's Ryan McNamara fires a shot during the opening day of the state tournament at Pueblo's City Park. McNamara defeated Widefield's Robert Williams and Greeley West's Ryan Pace to advance to today's semifinal match

PUEBLO – When the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team arrived at Pueblo City Park on Thursday, coach John Aragon was hoping all 11 of his players still would be contending for a state title at day’s end.The coach will have to settle for 8 players contending in five different divisions. “It didn’t happen, but we are still in the hunt,” Aragon said. “I can’t really complain. All of our players fought hard, and I’m proud of all of them.”Steamboat is tied for second in the overall team standings at the state tournament with Kent Denver and Mullen. The teams have 11 points each.Cheyenne Mountain is in first place with 14 points and still has players contending in all seven divisions. The Sailors’ No. 3 singles player, Ryan McNamara, who commutes during the season from Vail, made moving past Widefield’s Robert Williams and Greeley West’s Ryan Pace look easy. McNamara topped Williams, 6-1, 6-0, and defeated Pace, 6-1, 6-0.”I’m expecting my draw to get a lot harder today,” McNamara said. “I played pretty well, but I think I’m going to have to be more aggressive if I want to keep winning.”

He will get his chance today against Golden’s Matt Gallagher in a semifinal match. Among Steamboat’s other contenders is last year’s No. 3 singles champion, Ramsey Bernard, who is making a bid for another title – this time at No. 2 singles.On Thursday Bernard moved past Pueblo South’s Mike Mauro in the first match of the day, 6-1, 6-2. Golden’s Nicholas Arnold tested Bernard in the quarterfinal match, but the Steamboat sophomore advanced with a 6-1, 6-3 victory.”It was a tough match,” Bernard said. “He had a great passing shot, and he kept me from getting to the net. I just tried to rally with him and take advantage when he made an error or gave me a short shot.”Bernard said the final score really didn’t reflect just how difficult the match was or how good a player Arnold is.”The match was decided on a few points,” Bernard said. “Things went my way in the first set, and I was able to get the shots I needed to win the second.”Bernard will face Cheyenne Mountain’s Dan Colten in the semifinals. Steamboat’s No. 1, No. 3 and No.4 doubles teams also kept their state title hopes alive by winning tight matches in the afternoon.

The team of Nick Ludolph and Taylor Reed, who is from Craig, topped Greeley Central’s Charlie Haskins and Drew Willeke in the first match (6-3, 6-2) before escaping a stubborn team from Liberty in the quarterfinal match. “It was the biggest win for me so far,” Reed said about his team’s, 7-5, 7-6 (4), victory against Liberty’s Ryan Krous and Clayton Miller.Ludolph and Reed said the difference in the match came down to desire.”We are both seniors, and we just didn’t want this to be the last match of our high school career,” Ludolph said. “I think we just wanted to win a lot more today.”The pair knows it will have to play a better match today to get past Mullen’s Eric Hane and Collin Wayne, who beat Niwot and Golden en route to the semifinals.”It definitely wasn’t our best match,” Reed said. “But we made the shots when we needed to and found a way to win.”It was similar story at No. 3 doubles, in which Steamboat’s Dylan Roberts and Jesse Schaller won a back-and-fourth battle with Kent Denver’s Frazier Cavness and Ross Mower. The victory came on the heels of a 6-0, 6-2 win against Fountain Valley’s Aaron Mendoza and Nick Reiss. The duo will face Mullen in today’s semifinal match.At No. 4 doubles, Steamboat’s Scott Peterson and Brian Behrman, who also is from Craig, defeated Pueblo West’s Wyatt Suda and Jonathon Shriver, 6-0, 6-0. The team then defeated Pine Creek’s Mark Lucero and Brandon Schwartz, setting up a showdown with Cheyenne Mountain today.

Steamboat’s No. 2 doubles team of Jon Reese and Brian Aragon lost a heartbreaking match to Mullen’s Dillon Karras and Paul Mershon in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-2. Coach Aragon hopes Mullen will beat Broomfield in today’s semifinal match to pull Aragon and Reese back into the mix.The only disappointment of the day came at No. 1 singles, in which Walker Loetscher lost to Alexander Dawson senior Erik Lillydahl, 6-3, 7-5.”Walker was up 4-1 in the second set, and I think that if he could have won that it would have broken the other kid’s spirit,” Aragon said. “But a couple of shots really cost him.”Lillydahl lost in the quarterfinals to Cheyenne Mountain’s Daniel Moore, making it impossible for Loetscher to make the playbacks.”I feel that Walker is as good as any of the No. 1 players in this tournament,” Aragon said. The state tournament continues today at Pueblo City Park. The tournament ends Saturday with matches for first, second and third places.Vail, Colorado

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