Young team aiming high this season
The Durango High School girls tennis team picked up its second win in three matches on Thursday, shutting out the Steamboat Springs Sailors, 7-0, on a neutral court in Grand Junction.
“The season is going good; I like to get them playing matches early in the season to get that feel of competition,” said DHS head coach Darren Tarshis. “To get three matches in already is a win in itself.”
DHS freshman Sophia Gallagher won her match at No. 1 singles, 6-2, 6-2, against Kelsey Norland.
“We have a big-hitting freshman playing No. 1 singles, which gives us a nice little boost,” Tarshis said.
at no. 2 singles, Ellie Davenport stayed undefeated on the year. Davenport lost the first set to Grace Brice, 6-2, but rallied to win the next two sets, 6-1 and 6-3, to take the match. She said she started a little slow, but adjusting her footwork to better reach Brice’s slicing serves helped her.
Davenport also played at No. 2 singles last year.
“It feels really good; I didn’t expect to start that well,” she said about beginning 3-0. She said some of her goals this season are to get more consistent with her serves, finish with a winning record and to qualify for the state tournament. She wants a lot of her teammates to qualify for state as well.
at. no. 3 singles, the team’s position is still undetermined, but Sydney Pritchard moved up from doubles on Thursday and scored a 6-1, 6-1 win.
“I definitely feel like it wasn’t my best win; it was more because the other player was a little inexperienced, but I felt good overall,” Pritchard said.
Pritchard played No. 1 doubles last season.
“It’s definitely very new,” she said about playing singles. “They both have their pros and cons. Doubles is nice because you have that support. And singles is also nice because it’s really just on you.”
The coach said he’s still sorting out the top-2 doubles positions based on who’s playing well. On Thursday, both the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles pulled out wins.
Adwyn Chowen and Juliet DiGiacomo won 6-3, 6-3 at No. 1. The duo qualified for the state tournament last season at No. 2 doubles.
Lola Bradshaw and Ellie McLean won their match at No. 2 doubles, 6-1, 6-0. Both players qualified for the state tournament last season in doubles, but they were on separate teams.
Steamboat Forfeited at No. 3 and no. 4 doubles, but Durango got some practice matches in at the two positions. Litzy Lopez and Addie Cady, DHS’ No. 3 doubles team, played Steamboat’s No. 1 team, but fell 8-1.
DHS’ No. 4 doubles team, Avery Edgar and Rachel Ager, played Steamboat’s No. 2 team and beat it, 8-1.
The team will stay at Grand Junction to compete in the 16-team Western Slope Invitational this weekend.
Each position will have its own bracket.
“It will be nice to play a lot of games consecutively and keep up our endurance,” Davenport said.
Durango has 35 players out for the team this year, but no seniors.
For the 11 varsity players, coach Tarshis said, “My goal for the whole team is to go to Pueblo (for the state tournament). That’s the big goal; I think it’s very possible to do that.”
The program has also made a big push to develop its junior varsity. Tarshis said five years ago Durango didn’t have enough girls for a junior-varsity team; this year it will host its first junior varsity doubles tournament.
“I think having that feeding program and having more kids able to experience competition has been really good,” he said.
The team will then turn its focus to league matches, beginning March 17 at Grand Junction Central.
DHS will play its first home matches April 8-9 against Grand Junction.
The coach said Grand Junction and Fruita Monument are typically the strongest competition they see in the league. At the state level, Niwot, Kent Denver and Cheyenne Mountain have dominated the state for about the last decade, he said.
“I’m excited for the season,” Davenport said. “At every single position, we have strong players.”
“I think the team is doing really good,” Pritchard said. “I’m excited to see everyone stoked to be playing.”