Skiers boys want to be just like the girls | AspenTimes.com

Skiers boys want to be just like the girls

Nate Peterson

Aspen junior Sean Chatellard returns a volley during practice at the Aspen Tennis Club on Wednesday afternoon. Chatellard, the No. 1 singles player on the team, finished fourth at regionals last year. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

Sherril Kerr, head coach of both tennis teams at Aspen High, said there are certain things she prefers about coaching the boys in the fall, as opposed to girls in the spring. “You can yell at the boys and they won’t start crying,” Kerr said jokingly Wednesday afternoon in between shouting orders to her players during practice at the Aspen Tennis Club. Here’s something Kerr doesn’t like to joke about: The Skiers boys team failed to qualify anyone for state last fall, a first during her six seasons as head coach. Kerr, who enters season No. 7 this fall, also turns serious when the subject of a regional title is broached. Her girls teams in the spring have won their share of regional titles, while the boys have continued to come up short each fall. Last year, as in years past, the Skiers boys finished second to regional heavyweight Steamboat Springs, who then went on to finish fourth overall at state. While a second-place finish at regionals isn’t a result most programs would shake their head at, Kerr said she coaches to win – not finish in second place. The boys don’t cry, yes, but they also haven’t met expectations – at least not when compared with what the Skiers girls have done.

That could all change this fall, however, as the Skiers return a deep squad with a number of talented freshmen.”[Our goal] is a regional championship, of course,” Kerr said when asked about the outlook for this season. “Steamboat [Springs]is a huge boulder in the middle of that road. They always have a really strong program, and they’ve won the region several years in a row. That’s our challenge. I think we’ll qualify a lot for state, but to win the regional championship is what we are shooting for.”The most important returner for the Skiers is No. 1 singles player Sean Chatellard. The soft-spoken junior from Chamonix, France, said he is more prepared for his second season as the premier singles player on the team after a sophomore season where each match was a progressive learning process. “Last year was my first year playing [high school tennis], because we don’t have it in France,” Chatellard said. “I was just excited to be at regionals, but it was frustrating finishing fourth. This year I want to go to state. Now I know the team and I know the players and I know my opponents. I know who is going to be No. 1 on the other team, and I feel much more comfortable because of that.”Chatellard’s ties to Aspen come from his mother, whom he lives with in Glenwood Springs for a portion of the year. The Demons don’t have a high-school tennis program, so Chatellard joined up with the Skiers – the nearest high school with a varsity team. In the winter, Chatellard competes in his other competitive sport, ski racing, while living with his father outside Chamonix, France, in the French Alps.Chatellard’s formula for success this season begins with being more offensive-minded. He said he’s been working on attacking the net off serves instead of being defensive like he was at times last fall.

“That’s how I’m going to win – be offensive instead of defensive,” he said. “[My] serving got better, too. Now I’m more confident and I go to the net right after my serve. The net is mostly what I have been working on.”The racket packThe other singles players on the Skiers varsity roster this fall are freshmen King Koehler at No. 2 and senior Glen Engleman at No. 3.Kerr said one of the reasons the Skiers may finally win that coveted regional team title this fall is because of the potent mix of veterans and newcomers. Engleman is just one of three seniors on the 11-man varsity team, and Koehler is one of four freshmen who could earn a spot. “We’re going to surprise a lot of people because we’re a lot stronger than in years past,” Kerr said. “The freshmen on the team this year, they’ve been playing [U.S. Tennis Association matches] for a number of years and they’re real strong.”

The No. 1 doubles team is Logan Taylor and Ryan Dunn, followed by Aaron Cummins and Cole Green-Smith at No 2.Kerr has not officially decided which doubles teams will play at No. 3 and No. 4 when the team opens its season against Montezuma-Cortez in Grand Junction at noon Saturday. The duos of Chris Taylor and Tyler Roos and A.J. Smollen and Remy Pearlstone are in the running.After the trip to Grand Junction, the Skiers next play at Eaton on Friday, Sept. 2.Kerr said one her main points of emphasis this season is to be more competitive against the bigger schools. “Just tougher competition is what we need,” she said. “The schools in our region, except for Steamboat, just aren’t very strong. When you go up against a Steamboat, or a Fountain Valley or Evergreen, those are 4A schools, and we’re 3A. The competition is just so much stronger, and they’re hitting the ball harder. Last year, our guys were doing all they can do to hit the ball back, but they couldn’t really compete. I think we’ve got a lot of strong ball strikers on our team this year. We’ve also got smarter players.”Nate Peterson can be reached at npeterson@aspentimes.com

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