Tennis team volleys four to state

Sailors finish in 3rd place overall at regionals

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— Four Steamboat Springs tennis players punched their tickets to the state championships last weekend with top finishes at the regional meet in Grand Junction.

"It took four years, but I get to go to state," Steamboat Springs senior Meagan Franks said.

The Sailors finished in third place in the overall regional standings, and will be sending a record number of players to the state tournament in Pueblo later this week. Topping the list is the team's No. 2 singles player, Franks. She will be joined by No. 3 singles player, Kim Heckbert and Steamboat's No. 2 doubles team of Tiffany McGinn and Tara Weiss.

"I'm not feeling any pressure," Franks said of the upcoming state championship. "The pressure was last week and making it to state."

Franks said she is happy that the team will be taking four players this year, however, she had hoped more of her teammates would have advanced through last weekend's brackets.

Montrose won the regional title with 58 points and Aspen was second with 41. Steamboat came in third place with 32 total points at the meet. There were 11 teams in the region 8 championships.

"These are the players I expected to go," Sailors coach Beccy Brane said. "I thought we might take a few more, but I'm very happy that we are sending this many. It's the most we've ever sent and all we have to do is keep building."

Franks was the only individual player to earn a regional title. She defeated Kim Barberi of Montrose 6-2, 6-1 in the finals of her division which will translate into a top seed at next week's state meet.

Franks won four matches en route to the title and will be making her first trip to the state tournament.

"That match against the girl from Montrose was probably the toughest. There were just so many emotions out there," Franks said.

Steamboat will also send it's No. 3 singles player, Heckbert, who defeated Melissa Cannell of Paonia in the quarterfinals, but fell to Montrose's Carly Hornbeck in the semifinals to place third.

Heckbert was able to win three matches in the playbacks to earn a state berth, however.

The Sailors' No. 2 doubles team also finished third, but managed to secure a state berth by beating Montezuma, Cortez and Paonia. The duo topped Montrose's Anna White and Emily Boston in the final playback match of the day to secure their ticket to the state finals.

Other top Steamboat finishes who did not make the state qualifying cut included the Sailors No.1 singles player, Allison Griffing, who finished fifth after losing to Glenwood's Nellie Hauff in the quarterfinals. That division was won by defending state champion Laura Gordon of Aspen.

The Sailors' No. 1 doubles team of Kandra Sharp and Ali Fisher also just missed a shot at the state finals after placing fourth at the regional meet. Steamboat's No. 4 doubles team of Stephanie Kammerer and Marissa Bucci finished fifth at the tournament as well.

The state tournament will open Thursday at Pueblo City Park. Each of the brackets will be made up of the top-16 players or teams in the state of Colorado.

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