Glenwood athletes competing for Aspen boys tennis this fall
In the last three years, the Aspen High School tennis team has fared quite nicely at the season ending state tournament. The Skiers, of Coach Gary Quandt, have strung together finishes of 7th in 2013, 8th in 2014, and 7th once again in 2015. Pretty impressive stuff for a 3A school that is required to play up in the state’s lowest tennis classification, which is 4A.
With all the lofty achievements of his recent teams at Aspen, you would think Coach Quandt would be satisfied with past accolades and shift, just a little bit, into cruise control this season. Not so for the Skier mentor.
“If everyone plays up to their potential this season, we can do even better at state,” said Quandt, who is also the head professional at the Aspen Golf and Tennis Club. “They’re all quality players.”
Quandt and his talented team will have some added help in their quest for improvement at state this season from three players who attend Glenwood High School.
Gabe Suarez, David Zalinski, and Jonah Kelley, all make the daily 45-minute commute to Aspen for practice as part of the Skier tennis team.
Since Glenwood High does not field a boys tennis team, the three young men are allowed to compete at a school that does offer the sport. With Aspen being the only area school that has tennis for boys, the choice for the Glenwood trio was easy.
“Those three will be doubles players for us,” said Quandt. “Our three singles spots are pretty much set. We’re still experimenting with combinations to see where they fit and who will help us the most.”
Quandt is impressed not only with the tennis ability of the three Demons, but also their dedication to the sport and his team, by putting in the travel and practice time each day.
“Gabe (Suarez) just got his license, so he drives up here, but David and Jonah ride the bus. The matches are actually easier for them than the practices because we just pick them up on our way through Glenwood,” said Quandt.
Sue Geist, who is the head tennis teaching professional at the Glenwood Community Center, is very familiar with all three of the Demons, turned Skiers.
“I worked with all three of them at one time or another,” stated Geist. “They have gotten so quick and so strong, that I had to pass them on to other coaches. They just started hitting the ball too hard for me.”
Suarez, a junior, will be competing in his second season with the Aspen team, having jumped on the bus a year ago to make the pilgrimage to the higher altitude clay courts at the Aspen Golf and Tennis Club, where the Skiers practice.
“Gabe was part of our number one doubles team last year with Keegan Mehall,” said Quandt. “They had a good season and earned us some points at state.”
Suarez is hoping a return trip to state is in the cards at the end of this year also.
“My goal is to make it to state with whoever my partner may be,” said Suarez, who is taking a class online this semester in order to have his last period free at GSHS, so he can arrive in Aspen on time for practice each day.
With high expectations following them, the Aspen tennis team is off to a good start to the season, having defeated Fruita Monument 5-2 in a match last weekend on the road.
The contributions from Suarez, Zalinski (sophomore), and Kelley (freshman), will undoubtedly go a long way toward helping the Skiers on their journey to a high state finish in late October.
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