Steamboat Springs It’s not that winning a best-of-three sets tennis match in three sets is impossible. It’s that, especially after losing the first set, it can feel that way.
A player or team has to be nearly perfect, it’s margin for error already squandered.
“It’s definitely a long process when you split sets,” Steamboat Springs tennis player Natalie Simon said.
Saturday, she and her teammate, Emmie Thompson, found out just how tough it can be, and just how to get it done.
The pair, playing No. 1 singles for the Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team, lost the first set of their Friday match against Ralston Valley. They rallied and came back to win the second, then force a third-set tiebreaker before eventually losing.
Saturday’s match, against Fruita Monument, followed an eerily similar script. They lost the first set and played much better in the second to force a third.
This time, they won there, however, helping lead the way for the Sailors in a strong weekend of home action.
“Winning the second set gave us momentum into the third set, which helped a lot,” Thompson said.
“It’s a hard thing to do,” Simon said. “We came into the third set today hoping we could end it quickly, and we did.”
Steamboat lost Friday against Ralston Valley 5-2, dropping two matches via third-set tiebreaker.
The team bounced back to take the win Saturday against Fruita Monument, 4-3.
The Sailors' No. 1 doubles team provided some of the biggest highlights. It lost, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 Friday, but won 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1 a day later against Fruita.
Another big weekend performance came from Maddie Thompson at No. 2 singles. Her toughest match was Friday against Ralston’s Murphy Harr, a highly regarded Class 5A player.
Thompson pulled out that three-set win, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.
“That’s the most athletic she’s ever played,” coach John Aragon said. “She’s a great hockey player. I told her to use her hockey style, to come up to the net, the goal, and put it in that gap. That’s the best I’ve ever seen her play. She was remarkable.”
No. 1 singles player Mae Thorp accounted for Steamboat’s other Friday win, beating Ralston Valley’s Morgan Jenkins, 6-1, 6-1.
Lily Fox just barely lost at No. 3 singles, falling in a third-set tiebreaker.
A day later, Maddie Thompson won easier, 6-2, 6-2. Jordyn Hetrick and Soria Rabanal cruised to a win at No. 2 singles, 6-2, 7-5, and Hadley McGee and Mariah Walker won at No. 3 doubles, 6-3, 6-2.
It was a big weekend in Aragon’s view, one in which his roster, top to bottom, played its best tennis of the spring.
“That means it's starting to come together,” he said. “It’s great to see us, at this point, coming together and working as a team.”
The team will travel to play Poudre and Loveland on Monday. The team is then off until the regional tournament, which begins May 4 in Grand Junction.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9