Kelli Parnell feels the pressure as Steamboat Springs' top singles tennis player, and the confidence that comes with being the best hasn't always shown itself this season.
But her confidence was there Saturday at the Steamboat Tennis Center, as Parnell breezed through her match against Longmont's Mickelle White, 6-0, 6-4.
Parnell dominated the match from all angles, forcing White to work hard on the baseline just to return shots. The precision and control Parnell displayed Saturday was a much-needed turnaround from Friday's 6-4, 6-3 loss to Aspen's Alex Leddy, an opponent Parnell defeated easily last season, she said.
Parnell looked unsure of herself Friday night, but she executed myriad shots much better Saturday, particularly her volleys at net.
"The whole summer, I had been working on my net game," Parnell said. "Last year, I was so timid at the net. This year, I want to go to the net."
Stacy Cavanagh was forced to grow more comfortable at the net by playing doubles last spring in her first season of prep tennis. Cavanagh moved up to No. 3 singles this season, and though she dropped both matches during the weekend, she continues to improve.
Friday, Cavanagh was on the court for more than two hours. Saturday, she lost to Longmont's Carrie Knaus, 6-4, 6-0, in a match that lasted more than 90 minutes.
"The score didn't reflect the match," Cavanagh said. "Every game seemed like it was at deuce. She just won all the deuces. I run everything down, or try to, so the points go longer."
For the second straight day, the Sailors came out victorious as a team. Friday, Steamboat beat Aspen, 4-3, with some last-match heroics from the No. 4 doubles team of Tara King and Adele Dombrowski.
Saturday, the team race didn't come down to the final match because the Sailors picked up four quick wins from Parnell, King/Dombrowski, Breanne Murray at No. 2 singles and the team of Megan Mooney and Martha Bender at No. 2 doubles. Murray, and Mooney and Bender remained unbeaten this season in dual match play with their wins.
But the way in which Amanda Toy and Anya Salzgeber played, particularly during the second set of their three-set loss to Whitney Taylor and Emily Dewey, made it seem like the No. 3 doubles team thought something was on the line.
After dropping the first set, 6-3, Toy and Salzgeber responded by winning the second, 6-1. The pair started to move their feet better in the second set and became more aggressive at net and with their return shots. But Taylor and Dewey proved to be stronger in the end, winning the final set, 6-1.
Sailors coach Don Toy said the 4-3 wins against Aspen and Longmont were "excellent" wins for the team, as attention begins to shift toward the postseason.
"We're learning as a team to be more competitive," Toy said. "We're not there yet, but we're learning that. We had four matches in three days, which created a good tournament feel. ... Regionals should be fun to watch."
Before opening regionals May 7 in Grand Junction, Steamboat hosts regional opponent Glenwood Springs at 11 a.m. May 1 at the Steamboat Tennis Center.