Aspen boys tennis dominates at regionals, advances all 11 players to state
Last year’s surprising regional loss to Steamboat Springs was demoralizing for the Aspen High School boys tennis team. This year’s win was simply dominating.
The Skiers competed Wednesday in its Class 4A Region 8 tournament in Grand Junction, winning the region title in impressive fashion and qualifying all 11 players to next week’s state tournament.
“We really played well,” AHS coach Gary Quandt said. “Every match was not even close.”
Aspen won every match on the day, earning the maximum 75 points as a team. No. 1 singles player Dillon Leasure qualified for his fourth straight state tournament by not losing a single game at regionals. He beat Durango’s Ethan Craig 6-0, 6-0, and Steamboat’s Ethan Paulus 6-0, 6-0.
Aspen’s No. 2 singles player Alex Ilic cruised to 6-1, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-1 wins and its No. 3 singles player Gabriel Suarez won both matches, 6-0, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-2.
It was much the same for the doubles players. Aspen’s No. 1 doubles team of Jonah Kelley and David Zalinski advanced to state with 6-1, 6-1 and 6-2, 6-4 wins. The No. 2 doubles team of George Ghali and Christian Kelly won 6-2, 6-1 in their lone match after receiving a bye.
Quandt said the biggest highlight came from the impressive play of Liam Sunkel and Dylan DeGraff at No. 3 doubles. They won 6-2, 6-3 and 6-1, 6-1.
“That was easily the best match they’ve played all year,” Quandt said. “I compared the scores against Steamboat and I think in every match we played we did better than we did up in Steamboat (this year).”
Rounding out the matches was the No. 4 doubles team of Lukee Tralins and Bryce Cordts-Pearce, who won 6-2, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-0.
The 4A state tournament will be held Oct 12-14 in Pueblo. The Skiers finished fourth as a team last fall and Quandt believes they’ll have the chance to again make it to the final day of play next Saturday.
“I think we have the potential to,” he said, “but we have to go out and prove it. You never know.”
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Strange is a word that will likely define the winter high school sports season. But, after numerous delays and endless doubts, that season is finally here. It will include fewer games, more masks and a lot of empty seats, but adapting to that strangeness is better than the alternative.