Vail Mountain tennis nets regional title for first time
Make a new banner, Bobby
Now here’s a first.
The Vail Mountain School tennis team is a regional champion for the first time in school history. The Gore Rangers, who are actually Team United Nations with athletes from the Vail Mountain School, Vail Christian, Battle Mountain and Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy as well as home-schoolers, won the Class 3A Region 8 Tournament in Grand Junction on a steamy Thursday.
As if VMS athletic director Bobby Ecker doesn’t have enough to do, he needs to get working on a new banner for the gym.
VMS has qualified individuals or doubles’ teams in the past, but the Gore Rangers are sending a contingent to state in Colorado Springs, starting on Thursday.
“In past years, we’ve had one or two qualify, sometimes zero,” VMS coach Hillary McSpadden said. “We basically have 10 or so players going, so this is pretty big for us.”
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Meet the team
For those not familiar with high school tennis, each team encounter has three matches of singles and four of doubles. Whoever wins the majority of the seven contests wins the team competition.
Six of VMS’s seven entrants either won the regional title or finished second in Junction to qualify for state.
Unfortunately, the one exception for the Gore Rangers was at No. 1 singles where Catherine Dawsey finished third.
According to McSpadden, Dawsey just ran into the difficult competition one expects in this bracket. Dawsey helped get the Gore Rangers to this point and one day of tough losses doesn’t take away from her season.
The Battle Mountain student will be the first alternate from the region for state. Stranger things have happened.
Ava Cvatalo, who attends VMS, is a regional champion at No. 2 singles, while Annika Iverson, who is home-schooled, holds that crown in No. 3 singles.
The Gore Rangers doubled their pleasure in doubles with Gracie Allen (Vail Christian) and Sofia Brunner (VMS) rolling at No. 2 doubles to a win. Aria Webster (Vail Christian) and Celia Barrie (Battle Mountain) cruised at No. 3 doubles.
Alli Bennett and Bayli McSpadden (both from VSSA) finished second in No. 1 doubles and they’re off to state. So are Addie Sullivan (VSSA) and Linnea Iverson (home-schooled).
The road to state
As with Battle Mountain hockey, the job for VMS tennis is, yes, to win some matches, but also to become a team.
“Although VMS has been amazing in their support of the program, we get girls from all the high schools in the valley,” Hillary McSpadden said. “What is cool is that girls have come together to have tightly-knit team.”
Yes, the high-school season was later than usual, which helped a bit with the weather. Nonetheless, getting time at the Homestead Court Club, where McSpadden is an instructor, was tough. (McSpadden coaches the team with Steve McSpadden and Homestead’s Eric Meyer.)
Do note that there are several teams in the region that have better weather than Vail in schools like Basalt, Delta, Cedaradege, Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs.
There was also the little matter that it was hot — in the 90s — in Grand Junction on Thursday. How does an Eagle County athlete perform in such warm temperatures? Well, with a lot of water.
“Basically, it was a long day and at the end, we took a bunch of team photos,” Hillary McSpadden said. “Our team celebration was pretty much getting out of the sun. Now we have a couple of days to rest, practice and go to state.”