Three years ago, Brian Behrman and Taylor Reed decided they wanted to try something new. They looked at some tennis courts and realized the relatively obscure sport in Craig was going to be their new entertainment. Today, the two Moffat County High School sophomores left to play tennis for one of the best high school teams on the Western Slope -- Steamboat Springs.
"We had nothing to do one day and we though we'd try it," Behrman said. "Immediately, we liked it."
The two practiced mostly against each other their eighth-grade years on the Lincoln Street courts in Craig.
"There's not a lot of people in Craig who play," Reed said. "We were usually the only ones out there."
To learn more about their new sport, the two started to go to Steamboat for some drills and skills clinics. The summer before his freshmen year, Reed met the Steamboat high school coach, John Aragon, at a clinic.
"They asked me if I wanted to play on the team," Reed said. "I said, 'Sure, but there's one more from Craig.'"
Since Moffat County High School doesn't have a tennis team, the two were allowed to join the Sailors. Last year, they made the 90-mile round trip to play on the junior varsity team.
After getting a taste of competitive tennis, both boys set a goal of being on varsity this year, not an easy task considering eight of the 11 varsity players on last year's state-qualifying team were returning.
They put in hours of time at Lincoln Street, often playing under the lights and made several trips to Steamboat for clinics. Reed said he averaged six hours of tennis a day in preparation for the season.
"Taylor came to me and told me he wanted to be the number-three singles player," Aragon said. "I was a little surprised at first but I told him if he won the matches to earn the spot, it was his."
A tennis team has 11 varsity spots with first, second and third singles players as the team's top trio and then the next eight spots are filled by the top four doubles teams.
Reed outplayed all but two of last year's varsity players to reach his goal of being the number three singles player.
"I wanted to play singles so I worked for it a lot and got it," Reed said.
"I've never seen a kid come in so improved after one season," Aragon said. "Both he and Brian put in the time this summer to come back and help our team."
After making the varsity team, the two have hopped in Reed's car with his mom as chauffeur nearly every school day to go to Steamboat. The only days the Sailor servers miss are an occasional Tuesday and Thursday when the team practices early.
When the regional starts in Delta Friday, the Sailors will be in position to win their sixth consecutive title. Reed and Behrman go into the tournament as top seeds.
"We have a better team than last year so we should win," Behrman said.
"Both of us have the goal to win the regional."
Aragon said he saw Behrman and his doubles partner, Dylan Roberts, who are 10-5, as a top-five team in the state.
Reed goes into the regional with an 8-8 record.
"Taylor has some tough matches ahead of him," Aragon said. "But he could win the regional and get some wins at state."
The sophomores are focused on doing well for their team in the post season but they admit being a Sailor for a season was a little weird at first.
"Wearing the red takes some getting used to," Reed said.
Behrman, who plays baseball for Moffat County, said his loyalty remains with his school.
"I wouldn't cheer for Steamboat in anything except tennis," he said.
Regardless of colors or schools the enjoyment of their new sport makes the commute easier.
"It's a lot of fun," Behrman said. "The only difference from another sport is that we have to drive 40 miles to do it, but the team is great and we're happy to get the chance."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or email@example.com.