Aspen tennis team off to a great start |

Aspen tennis team off to a great start

Game, set, match. It’s a scoring system the Aspen High School girls tennis team has all but mastered this year.

The Skiers are off to one of their best starts in school history with a 5-2 team record. Their only two losses went to 4A’s Grand Junction Central and 5A’s Grand Junction early in the year.

Since then, Aspen has ripped off a five-match winning streak.

“We are having a great season,” fifth-year coach Suzi Patterson said. “We have a lot of great athletes who are very committed to the team. It’s been a fun season so far and we hope to continue it through to the State Tournament.”

Aspen, which won the Steamboat Springs round-robin match last weekend in Steamboat, will travel to Carbondale today to face Roaring Fork in a Western Slope Conference match. The first match is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at Roaring Fork High School.

On Thursday, the Skiers host Cortez at 7 p.m. at the Maroon Creek Tennis Club and then Salida at noon Friday at either the Iselin courts or the Maroon Creek Tennis Club.

At 5-2, the Skiers are in a good position as they enter the final stretch of the season next week. If AHS can collect three more wins, the Skiers would be in great shape for the Regional Tournament with only two matches left.

“That would be great,” Patterson said. “We would be in great shape to end the season well and to get a good seed at Regionals.”

The 3A Regional meet is scheduled for April 30 to May 1 at the Elliott Tennis Center at Mesa State College in Grand Junction. The State Tournament will take place the following weekend in Denver at various sites.

Last year, Aspen’s Aimee Hecht, rated No. 1 in singles, was the school’s lone Regional qualifier. She also advanced to the State Tournament as junior. The singles leaders Leading the way for the Skiers this year is Hecht in the No. 2 singles slot.

Hecht is 4-2 on the year in individual play, with many of her matches against 4A and 5A players from around the state.

“Aimee has been battling in every match this year and is doing a great job,” Patterson said. “She has the chance to return to the State Tournament again this year.”

Patterson added that Hecht, who will play for Trinity College in Kentucky in the fall, has “improved a great deal from last year” because of the competition she is facing this year.

“It really makes her a tougher player,” she said. “She’s playing with so much heart.”

“Experience and leadership” will help Hecht with the remainder of the season and, hopefully, a return to the postseason tourney, the coach said.

Taking over the No. 1 singles position is nationally ranked freshman Laura Gordon, who transferred to Aspen from California last summer.

Because of her participation in the national events, Gordon has been limited to just one match with Aspen this year. But according to Patterson, she still brings a lot of confidence to the team.

“She’s an encouraging player,” Patterson said. “She encourages the other kids on the team to raise the level of their game. She is a really good player and a lot of the other players look up to her.

“There are a lot of expectations from her this year,” Patterson added. “She has a lot of promise.”

Sophomore Hayley Fucci (3-3) is back at No. 3 singles after a promising freshman performance last year.

Patterson said Fucci has “a lot more poise this year.” Doubles teams Natalie Mysior and Allison Ortmann are again the Skiers’ No. 1 doubles team and have so far racked up a 4-2 record.

As the top doubles team for the second consecutive year, Patterson said the duo “has a lot of potential if they believe in themselves.

“The big thing for this team,” she added, “is they need to continue to play with the confidence they are playing with now.”

Brooke Blumberg and Whitney Gordon (No. 2 doubles) are 3-3 together this year and Patterson noted that they “are starting to gel at the right time.”

Gordon, named The Aspen Times Winter Athlete of the Year, also plays soccer for the AHS girls team.

Returning No. 3 doubles partners Mae Whitmere and Abby Norton are 4-2.

“This team has a huge potential if they stay serious about the game,” Patterson said. “They have the tendency to lose confidence once in a while, but they have been playing together for three years, so they do have the ability to be very good.”

Whitmere and Norton are also key members of the AHS girls soccer team.

Completing Aspen’s powerful lineup are Dana Stewart and Jill Evans (2-3), a new duo playing in the No. 4 position.

“They are going to be OK,” Patterson said. “They are fairly inexperienced at the varsity level, but they love the competition and are two very good athletes.”

This year, Patterson, who splits the coaching duties with Sherill Kerr, said she expects more qualifiers for both Regionals and State play.

“We have the potential to send quite a few teams to State this year,” she said. “If we can stay focused and take the game seriously, I think we can do it.”

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