Sailors hope to ace regional

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— For the 11 members of the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team, making it to the state championships has been a season-long goal.

But if the players' intensity at practice Tuesday was any indication, none of them is overlooking this weekend's regional in Grand Junction.

"It's definitely our way to get the trip," junior player Tiffany McGinn said. "If we want to go to state we have to finish first or second at regional or get into a playback."

McGinn, who qualified for the state tournament as a freshman, has been pushing hard this year to make a return trip because of her partner Tara Weiss.

"I want to get back to state for her," McGinn said. "She's a senior and this is her last chance."

It may also be the Sailors' best chance of winning the regional tournament, according to one of the team's head coaches, Beccy Brane.

"I feel like we have a real good chance of winning the regional," Brane said.

The coach said the Sailors will need to get a few breaks in the initial draw, but if her players are placed favorably, she said she thinks they will all fare well.

Heading the list of Sailors who will be competing at the meet are sophomore Allison Griffing, senior Meagan Franks and sophomore Kim Heckbert.

Steamboat will also have the No. 1 doubles team, which includes senior Kandra Sharp and sophomore Ali Fisher. The No. 2 squad will included McGinn and Weiss and the No. 3 team will be seniors Laura Varsafsky and Sarah Davey.

Senior Stephanie Kammerer and sophomore Marissa Bucci will round out the regional team in the No. 4 slot.

The Sailors have faced seven of the eight teams at this year's regional. Montezuma-Cortez will be the only unknown for Steamboat.

The other teams will come from Aspen, Roaring Fork, Cedaredge, Hotchkiss, Paonia, Montrose and Glenwood Springs.

Brane expects Montrose and Glenwood to be the biggest threats to Steamboat's regional- title hopes. Last year, Steamboat finished second at the regional meet to Montrose and Griffing was the team's only state qualifier.

"I just want to play consistent and strong," Griffing said. "It's nice that I went to state last year. I think having that experience behind me will be a help."

Steamboat will play the opening matches of the regional tournament starting Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. The tournament will continue through Saturday afternoon.

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