Aspen tennis downs Vail Mountain in season opener
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – With his No. 1 singles player trailing two games to one in the first set Thursday, Aspen head tennis coach Scott Dorais huddled with Haley Hopkinson during a break in play.
He told her to be more aggressive and quicker on the first step, and that proved to be the remedy. Hopkinson battled back to win the first set, 6-2, then dominate the second, 6-0, against Vail Mountain School’s Courtney Thomas.
All told, the Skiers won six of seven matches in their season opener at the Maroon Creek Club.
The victory was the first for sophomore Hopkinson, who moved to Aspen last summer from Connecticut.
“We need more girls from Connecticut to come here,” Dorais joked. “She was great. She was a little bit nervous at the start of the match, but she basically out-hit that girl. She was able to stay at the baseline and play her game.”
Thomas displayed strong ground strokes highlighted by a powerful backhand. Hopkinson was able to fight off many of Thomas’ shots, however, and force many errors from her opponent.
“She is a grinder,” Dorais said of Hopkinson. “She’s not really flashy and doesn’t come to the net a lot, but she’s a counter puncher. She’s going to keep hitting balls back and put the pressure on the other girl.”
Added Hopkinson: “I was pretty consistent with placement and power, and I think I was pretty good with my ground strokes.”
Hopkinson was surprised to be competing at No. 1 singles in her first match with the Skiers, but was happy with her results.
“I wasn’t expecting it because I’m a new student at Aspen,” Hopkison said. “I still want to focus on volleys, so that’s what I’ll be working on for the next few weeks.”
“We need to make her game more than one dimensional,” Dorais added. “We’ll try to work on some serve and volley, try to get her some other options than counter punching. We’ve only had seven days of practice.”
Kayla Hansen and Caroline Godfrey won their No. 1 doubles match, 6-0, 6-0. Of the four doubles matches, all wins, each Skiers combination went 6-0 in at least one set.
“The tough part about coaching early in the season is trying to get the right pair out there,” Dorais said. “I think the coaches just got lucky tonight, and we had some pretty good combinations out there.”
Aspen hosts Durango at 4 p.m. Friday. Dorais said he will be making three or four switches to his doubles teams, but said it’s an exciting start to the season.
“Playing Vail, they’re a team in the middle of the region in terms of talent,” Dorais said. “Durango tomorrow will be a little bit stronger. … Overall, the girls worked hard and moved well on the court tonight.”
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.