Steamboat Springs The key to successful tennis for Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Lily Fox is ... well, it’s best if she explains.
“I can get kind of angry at myself sometimes,” she said. “I can get kind of psycho.”
When she can keep that condition in check, things tend to work out. When it escapes, they don’t.
The Sailors girls tennis team opened its season with a weekend doubleheader, playing Friday against Evergreen and Saturday against Grand Junction, and in her two matches, Fox said she had a bit of both personalities. She managed to contain the “psycho” enough, however, winning two grueling, three-set matches to help the Sailors to back-to-back team victories to open their season.
She won Friday playing at No. 3 singles, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4, then again Saturday, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
“Yesterday, I released full psycho,” she said. “That’s why it was a long one. I got angry at myself, and I couldn’t get out of it.”
She was more clearheaded Saturday.
“I tried not to do that again,” she said of Friday’s emotions. “She was really solid, a backboard, but I figured out moving her side to side was kind of a weakness of hers. I kept getting it back to her and letting her make the mistake.”
The Sailors beat Evergreen 5-2 Friday, then turned around to beat Grand Junction 5-2 Saturday.
“It’s a good start to the season,” coach John Aragon said. “It’s great to see the girls come together right away. They’re believing in one another right off the bat, supporting each other. I like that early chemistry.”
A young core at the top of the roster helped lead the way for those wins, starting at the very top with a freshman, who came into her first high school varsity action appropriately wide-eyed.
Mae Thorp has logged plenty of time on the court and is thoroughly experienced playing tournaments. Still, her first dip into the high school pool had her nervous.
“It’s really scary. There are a lot of people watching, so I have a lot of pressure,” she said. “There are more people just staring at you than in other tournaments.”
She pointed to those butterflies to explain what she considered a lackluster win against her Evergreen opponent, Zoe Love, though the “butterflies” didn’t exactly show in the score. She won 6-4, 6-1.
A day later, she won again against Grand Junction’s Julianna Campos 6-4, 6-3.
“My serves were pretty good, and my volleys were good,” she said.
It wasn’t quite so quick down the roster, but enough wins came, nonetheless.
Maddie Thompson, at No. 2 singles, bounced back from a first-set loss to beat Evergreen’s Giselle DeGrandchaup in three sets Friday night, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. She then won another long match Saturday, taking down Isabel Manzanares 6-2, 7-6(2).
Friday, “I definitely started off really slow. I wasn’t hitting well, but finally, I was able to make more shots,” Thompson said.
She is the only Steamboat senior playing in the singles spots.
“She’s a fierce competitor and a leader by example,” Aragon said. “She’s going to be a great leader for us this year.”
Steamboat also got wins Friday from its No. 3 doubles team of Hadley Mcgee and Amy Speer, 6-2, 6-3, and the No. 4 doubles team with Morgan Sauerbrey and Mariah Walker.
A day later, the No. 2 doubles team with Maddie Heydon and Christina Hathaway won 4-6, 6-0, 6-4. Sauerbrey and Walker also won again,6-4, 6-2.
“We’ve only had a week of practice and not a lot of match play, so I’m proud of how everyone’s been playing,” Thompson said.
The team is off to Grand Junction on Thursday. First, it will play Durango before playing Friday and Saturday in the 15-team Western Slope tournament.
It’ll be awhile until anyone gets to see the team play at home again. The Sailors won’t compete in Steamboat until its final two events of the regular season, April 14 and 15, against Ralston Valley and Fruita Monument.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9