Basalt girls tennis ready for second year at varsity with larger team
A lot has changed for the Basalt High School girls tennis team in two years. In that time — which accounts for the entirety of its existence — it’s gone from a small junior varsity group to a full-fledged varsity team.
“The nice thing is we grow every year and this year we had 16 girls come out,” BHS coach Diana Elliott said. “Our first year we had five and the second year we barely made our team with 11, and now this year we actually are going to be able to have a JV as well.”
The program made its debut in spring 2017, playing exclusively at the junior varsity level. The Longhorns more than doubled in size for 2018, where they stepped up to varsity, and now in 2019 have continued that expansion with the ability to field two teams.
Basalt didn’t get anyone past regionals and into the state tournament last spring. While this year’s group is older and better, getting past teams like Aspen and Steamboat Springs at regionals will be easier said than done.
Which is why winning continues to be nothing more than a byproduct of the bigger goals put in place by Elliott.
“I’m looking for them to really enjoy and play the game of tennis,” Elliott said. “We put a lot of pressure on winning all the time. Obviously I would like them to win for their own personal reasons, to get those victories. But for me, I’m teaching a lifetime sport that also has character.”
Leading the way will be sophomore Mari Elliott at No. 1 singles. The daughter of the coach, she also played No. 1 singles as a freshman. Junior Maria Martinez will play at No. 2 singles and junior Itzel Esparza at No. 3 singles.
Sophomore Hannah Miller and senior Courtney Hassell are set to be the No. 1 doubles team, while sophomores Yosi Melendez and Lesly Cruz Hernandez will play at No. 2 doubles. The No. 3 and 4 doubles teams were still being decided as of Tuesday afternoon.
“We are still a young team. We only have two seniors on the team and the rest are juniors and sophomores,” Elliott said. “For me it’s more important about their character and that they have a really good time playing and they enjoy what they are doing.”
The Longhorns will get their season going Wednesday at Grand Junction. Thursday, they will host Vail Mountain at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel before heading back to Grand Junction on Saturday for matches against Cedaredge and Delta.
Regionals are May 1 to 3 in Grand Junction.
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High school sports are back. At least, things seem to be trending that way. As it stands, what is being dubbed “Season B” can begin practice on Monday, Jan. 18, with competition slated to get underway a week later.