Aspen High tennis beats Basalt in first home match as tinkering continues
Two matches into the season and there are still plenty of spots up for grabs on the Aspen High School boys tennis team. Many of these positions likely won’t be locked down until after the team returns from experiential education.
“I am still looking at lineups, especially in doubles. I want to get the right fit,” said AHS coach Steve Sand. “I want to give everyone an equal opportunity to compete for those final varsity spots.”
The Skiers, who beat Grand Junction 4-3 last week to open fall play, beat Basalt 7-0 on Wednesday at the Aspen Tennis Club to reach 2-0 in match play. Aspen is in its first season under Sand, a former assistant, after he took over for Gary Quandt, who stepped down after last season.
Missing are a handful of key pieces from a team that finished eighth in Class 4A a year ago, namely No. 1 singles player Dillon Leasure, who graduated. His heir apparent early on this fall looks to be senior Alex Ilic, who has worked his way up the singles ladder the past few years. Ilic made the state semifinals at No. 2 singles as a junior before finishing fourth.
“Alex, he’s been playing great and doing his job,” Sand said. “Now he’s the head guy with Dillon Leasure graduating. He’s looking great at practice and in his matches so far. He’s looking really good.”
Ilic still has some competition behind him in sophomores Christian Kelly and Alex Mosher, who are likely battling it out for the No. 2 spot this fall. Kelly played No. 2 doubles a year ago while Mosher transferred in from Texas last winter.
Liam Sunkel and George Ghali held down the No. 1 doubles spot against Basalt.
The Skiers have one match remaining before going on their Ex-Ed break — a trip Thursday to Grand Junction to play Durango. The 4A state championships are scheduled for Oct. 11 to 13 in Pueblo.
“I hope that first week after Ex-Ed we’ll have our lineup set,” Sand said. “Our JV guys from last year really improved over the summer. They got bigger and stronger and now they are contributing to varsity.”
For Basalt, Wednesday’s match was the first of its season and the first in the history of its program. It was only a club team a year ago.
The track at the Utah Olympic Park will be put to good use toward the tail end of 2022. The Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Cups stop at the UOP from Nov. 28 through Dec. 4, and then the Luge World Cup from Dec. 15 to Dec. 17.
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