Aspen doubles squad ousted in state opener | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen doubles squad ousted in state opener

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

PUEBLO, Colo. – Aspen tennis coach Scott Dorais acknowledged that his players might have been a tad overwhelmed in their first trip to state. Maggie Brown and Kayla Hansen still gave Mullen quite a test.

The Skiers’ No. 1 doubles team shook off a 6-2, first-set loss in Thursday’s opening round at the 4A state championships in Pueblo and nearly forced a deciding third set. Mullen mounted a late surge, however, and prevailed 6-2, 7-5.

By virtue of the Mullen duo’s loss in the semifinals, Aspen was denied a chance to compete in playback action.

“The whole atmosphere of the state tournament – all the energy, all the participants and the high level of the competition – [is unique]. Most of the kids are year-round players and this is what they play for. That being said, I don’t think our girls were really that intimidated,” Dorais said Friday. “They came out, played aggressive and played well. … As well as I’ve seen them play.”

Brown and Hansen rebounded from a loss to Steamboat Springs at last week’s regional tournament in Grand Junction with three straight wins to clinch the second and final qualifying spot.

They showed some of that resilience Thursday, rebounding from a rough first set to take a 5-3 lead in the second.

“Mullen took it to another level [at that point],” Dorais said. “They didn’t miss many shots and kept the pressure on. They hit some big shots on crucial points in those last four games. … I’m not saying we would’ve beat them in the third set, but that match could’ve potentially gone either way.”

Despite the loss, Brown and Hansen seemed pleased with their performance, Dorais said.

“They didn’t look back and wish they’d done this or that. They gave a great effort,” he added. “I think they were excited to be down there. They went out and got after it. … As I like to say, they left it all on the court.”

The duo can take solace in the fact that they were not the only ones from their region to exit early in Pueblo. Steamboat’s No. 1 doubles duo, which closed out the Skiers last week with 12 straight wins, lost 6-1, 6-1 in Thursday’s opener.

The Sailors, who won the regional team crown handily, had no players advance to the state semifinals.

“That tells you how competitive it is once you get to the next level,” Dorais said.

“A lot of these teams … are solid top to bottom and send if not their whole team than pretty close to it [to state]. They have huge support here. They’ve got tons of fans and parents and set up campsites with their tents. Having the support of a group of 30 people … has got to help the kids.”

Dorais is hoping Aspen will send a larger contingent to Pueblo next year. Optimism is high, as the Skiers lose just one senior.

“I know we’re capable of that,” Dorais added. “I know it would be fun, and the girls would all have a good time.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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