Aspen tennis opens season with stiff test | AspenTimes.com

Aspen tennis opens season with stiff test

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The task before the Aspen boys tennis team is a daunting one. After just three days of practices, one of which was in the rain, the young Skiers travel to Steamboat Springs Friday to open the 2010 season against a Sailors squad that has won 12 consecutive regional titles. One day later, Aspen, which has just one senior (Michael Willsky), visits another traditional power in Evergreen.Talk about a tough opening stretch.”It can only go up from there,” Skiers head coach Sherril Kerr joked Thursday afternoon. “I’m really looking forward to it. Bring them on.”I’m going to go out on a limb and say we’re going to beat [Steamboat].”Why is Kerr so confident? For one, she learned that the Sailors will be without five of their 12 players today – including No. 1 singles player Jamey Swiggart, who is working his back from a back injury, according to a recent article in the Steamboat Pilot & Today.And second, Kerr expects big things from her squad, which is light on experience but heavy on talent.”We’ve got some good freshman and some [junior varsity] players that are going to step up and contribute. That’s exciting,” the coach added. “The doubles teams are inexperienced, but there are a lot of possibilities.”At least the Skiers will not have to tinker with the top of their depth chart. Bryan Mehall and Willsky, two state tournament participants in 2009, return at No. 1 and No. 2 singles. Former No. 1 doubles player Brett Gordon will make the move to No. 3 singles.Gordon replaces Kyle Feuer, who won Aspen’s lone match at state last fall as a senior.”Bryan has gotten taller and stronger, and he’s just really hitting the ball well,” Kerr said. “He’ll be someone to contend with. He was last year, but he’s really going to make an impression.”The singles will be pretty solid.”The same cannot be said of Aspen’s doubles squads – at least not yet – because a host of young players are still working their way into the mix, Kerr said. Brian DeRosa and Stevie Anderson will start the season at No. 1 doubles, with Brad Broeking and Kaelin Gabow at No. 2, Devon Cardamone and Rocky Tschappat at No. 3 and Victor Robinson and Miles Keilin at No. 4. Six of Aspen’s top 11 players are either freshmen or sophomores.”[Success this season] depends on how quickly the doubles players come along and play smart,” Kerr said. “If you look at them … size-wise, most of them are [little] fellas. But you don’t have to cream the ball to win points. We’re working on playing percentage tennis and keeping the ball in play one more time. … That works well for a lot of people, even on the pro tour.”A lot of the kids have been playing this summer, so it’s not like they’re starting from zero.”This weekend’s matches should shed light on how far the Skiers have progressed and what works needs to be done. Steamboat topped Aspen, 5-2, in last season’s head-to-head match. “We played them pretty close and they were nervous for a while. I like that,” Kerr said. “You know me, I’d love to beat Steamboat. … I may not sleep tonight because of the excitement.”Kerr added: “It’s tough to tell, but [winning regionals], it’s possible. that’s always the goal. … We’ll see what happens.”jmaletz@aspentimes.com