Nothing like the home court advantage.
The Durango High School girls tennis team, playing at the friendly confines of their regular practice courts at DHS, swept Montezuma-Cortez 7-0 Tuesday afternoon.
The Demons, who started the season with a month's worth of road matches, took advantage of their first opportunity to play at home by winning six of their seven matches in consecutive sets.
DHS No. 1 singles player Sloane Phillips completed the clean sweep with a comeback 2-6, 6-0, 6-1 victory over Tori Pickens of Montezuma-Cortez.
"I'm thrilled for the girls," DHS head coach Dave Weisfeldt said. "We've been looking forward to this match for a while. The girls knew we would match up better against Cortez than some of the other teams we've played."
He said they had steady play on their home courts Tuesday, even though the DHS lineup is still going through changes.
"Sloane (Phillips) was patient. She's a very reflective player," Weisfeldt said.
He added that she was able to analyze the game and adjust accordingly.
For Phillips, it was a matter of getting warmed up against Pickens.
"I started out really slow," Phillips said. "But as it went on, I started to play my game. My arm loosened up, and I was warmed up."
Pickens, with her aggressive style, started the match very quickly by breaking Phillips' serve in the opening game.
Phillips broke right back, but Pickens posted two more service breaks and a stunningly quick 6-2 victory in the first set.
The second set started with a complete reversal of momentum. Phillips held serve and won the first game with a well-placed backhand winner.
She immediately broke Pickens in a long game at deuce to go up 2-0.Philips held serve in another long deuce game before she broke again to lead 4-0.
Phillips, with her serve becoming more and more effective, held serve and broke Pickens again to even the match with a 6-0 win in the second set.
She bolted to a 4-0 lead in the final set before Pickens managed a service break in the longest game of the match.
But Phillips exploited her opponent's serving difficulties to seal the 6-1 win in the third set.
"It was nice to play at home, and it's gorgeous out," Phillips said of the postcard spring weather that featured comfortable temperatures and light winds.
A few home fans, including her parents, Jan and Greg Phillips, also helped out, Sloane Phillips said.
"It always helps," she said.
Sarah Boyle of DHS won at No. 2 singles, using her tricky serve to defeat lefty Kristen Dove of Cortez 6-2, 6-0.
Ellen Southworth won for DHS at No. 3 singles, topping Melissa Castillo 6-3, 6-4.
Taylor Peterson and Allison Schell of DHS led the doubles sweep with a 6-4, 6-3 win at No. 1 doubles. They defeated Jessica Gonzalez and Alex Wallace.
Sierra Lillard and Kelsey Smith of DHS teamed to win at No. 2 doubles, topping Brie Odell and Lauren Halivier 6-1, 6-2.
At No. 3 doubles, Stephanie Sargent and Cassie Cathcart of Durango topped Victoria Stevens and Jordan Valdez 6-0, 6-1.
In the final late afternoon match, Kendall Kniffin and Kari Bjorlin of Durango defeated Abby Pickens and Roni Shaner of Cortez 6-1, 6-3 at No. 4 doubles.
"We're getting more of a competitive mentality going (at practice)," said Weisfeldt, who added that several other DHS players are bidding for varsity positions.
"We've got other girls working for those starting spots," he said.
"That kind of pressure in practice helps in these matches," Weisfeldt said.
The DHS varsity tennis team is off until April 18 when the Durango Demons host the Demons from Glenwood Springs.
Durango also will host Montrose and Fruita Monument in home matches on April 24 and 25, respectively.