Aspen girls tennis finishes second at regionals, will send five to state
The Aspen High School girls tennis team finished second to Steamboat Springs at its regional tournament Thursday and Friday in Grand Junction, and will send five players to this week’s Class 3A state tournament in Greeley.
Aspen’s state qualifiers include all three singles players and its No. 2 doubles team.
At No. 1 singles, AHS junior Mary Williams renewed her rivalry with Steamboat’s Mae Thorp, falling 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the final. Williams beat Thorp in the regional final last year but is 0-for-2 against her this season.
“Great match. Mary started slow in the first set and came on and battled,” AHS coach Steve Sand said. “Mae beat her pretty good the first week of the season, and Mary played great on the big stage and just came up a little short.”
Aspen hauled in a pair of regional championships at No. 2 and 3 singles. At No. 2 singles, junior Niko Hansen beat Vail Mountain’s Skylar Barr in the final, 6-4, 6-1. Hansen is an exchange student from Denmark and is in her first and likely only season with Aspen.
At No. 3 singles, freshman Macy Hopkinson beat Vail Mountain’s Sophie Daniel in the final, 6-2, 6-2.
“Great tournament for her,” Sand said of Hopkinson. “She is coming along and getting smarter out there. “
Aspen’s final two state qualifiers make up the No. 2 doubles team of Bliss Pekkala and Addy Walson, who also won their regional title. They beat Steamboat’s Amy Speer and Amanda Walker in the final, 0-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Aspen’s No. 1 doubles team of Karina Keller and Alura Potamkin lost in the second round after beating Basalt’s Monse Soto and Natasha Jewell in the first round.
Aspen’s No. 3 doubles team of Olivia Burkley and Maria Budsey made their final, losing a three-set match to Steamboat Springs. The No. 4 doubles team of Stef Wojcik and Rose Becker lost in the semifinals and came up just short in the challenge match that would have sent them to state.
The Skiers plan to leave Wednesday for Greeley. The 3A state championship takes place Thursday through Saturday at Centennial Park.
Basalt boys tennis a go for 2018
While the Basalt High School girls tennis team didn’t get anyone into this week’s state tournament, the future looks good for BHS tennis as a whole. This was the first season for the girls varsity program, and the BHS boys look to follow suit in the fall.
After being strictly a club team this year, the Basalt boys tennis program was recently approved to become a full varsity team for the 2018-19 school year.
“We are up and ready to go for next year. We got approval, so that’s great,” said BHS junior Dane Elliott. “The process of getting it approved was a lot of work.”
Elliott, the son of BHS girls tennis coach Diana Elliott, wanted to start the program as part of his capstone project. He worked directly with the school’s administration and helped with the tedious paperwork to make it a reality.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” he said.
And already, expectations are high for the team as it enters its first season in the fall.
“The club team was fun,” Dane Elliott said. “We’ve got a bunch of kids that have a history in tennis that want to play, but didn’t really have the chance.”
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One of the Demons’ key players, senior co-captain Graci Dietrich has severe hearing loss and relies on hand signs and lip-reading, rather than verbal communication, between her basketball teammates and coaches.