Aspen High girls tennis serves up two more wins
March 18, 2002
Last year at the Class 4A regional tennis tournament in Grand Junction, the Aspen High girls tennis team finished third, behind perennial powerhouses Montrose and Steamboat.
Considering that the Aspen girls had never beaten Montrose or Steamboat in head-to-head match play, it was a respectable finish for the Skiers en route to a fourth-place team result at the state tournament.
This season, however, the Aspen girls have exacted revenge from their longtime rivals. Last week Aspen beat Montrose. Then, on Friday at Steamboat, the Skier girls prevailed again, marking the first time in school history Aspen has beaten either team in match play. Aspen backed up the 5-2 victory over Steamboat with a 6-1 rout of Thompson Valley the next day, on Saturday, also at Steamboat.
“We’ve got game this year,” Aspen coach Sherril Kerr said. “The cool thing now is they’re going out and expecting to win and they play that way. They have a different attitude and we’re building on that.
“I tease them that they’re like biscuits who rise to the occasion, but they performed admirably. It was a fun weekend and it’s only the first week of the season.”
Aspen’s top singles player, senior Laura Gordon, rejoined the team before Friday’s trip to Steamboat. The 2000 Class 4A state champion and runner-up in 2001 had been training in Florida.
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In Friday’s match against Steamboat and Saturday’s contest against Loveland’s Thompson Valley, Gordon bested each team’s No. 1 singles player, losing just one game in both straight-set victories.
“It was a sacrifice for her to play with us this year,” Kerr said, “but she decided she wanted to come back and lead the team. It was very unselfish of her to do that, and we’re very appreciative.
“She’s our anchor; she’s sort of an assistant coach,” Kerr continued. “It’s so fun to have someone of that caliber who can show the other girls how to do it at a very high level.”
In No. 2 singles, junior Melissa Marcus beat her opponents from Steamboat and Thompson Valley in straight sets. “She was very solid,” Kerr said. “And she was supposed to play soccer, so we’re grateful to have her.”
Aspen senior Becca Cote dropped her two matches at No. 3 singles, but Kerr said “she’s finding her way.”
“Unfortunately, Becca’s the only one who lost both, but we’ve talked about it. She fights to the very end and she’s coming along,” Kerr said. “In the end, it’ll work out to her credit.”
Sophomore Alex Leddy and junior Nicole Hernandez, Aspen’s undefeated No. 1 doubles pair, won back-to-back matches against Steamboat and Thompson Valley opponents.
At No. 2 doubles, juniors Jacqueline Pearlstone and Brittany Biebl won both of their matches in straight sets, losing just one game in four sets. “They’ve won all the matches they’ve played together, so they’re clicking,” said Kerr.
Sophomore Courtney Sheeley and freshman Jennifer Leddy dropped their first match of the weekend to Steamboat in a tie-breaker at No. 3 doubles, but then rebounded with a win against Thompson Valley. And at No. 4 doubles, junior Christina Schluter and sophomore Meredith Hanrahan won both of their matches.
Aspen now stands at 6-0 overall, and Kerr expects her team to finish the regular season undefeated, which would be another team first. Kerr pointed to some advice that tennis legend and Aspen resident Martina Navratilova gave the girls last season as one reason for the early success.
“Martina told the girls, ‘Stay in the solution,'” Kerr recalled. “It means don’t give up, there’s a way out of it, there’s always a way to win. And that’s what we’re doing and that’s what’s going to make this a championship team. They’re learning and listening and really figuring it out.
“We’ve got four [head-to-head] matches left this season, and we’re going to go undefeated,” the coach continued. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t, and I believe that, but winning regionals is a whole different issue.”
After a two-week break from match play, the Aspen girls return to the court April 5-6 for the Grand Junction Invitational Tournament.
“We’ll see all the teams we’ll see at state,” Kerr said. “It should be a great tournament for us.”
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