Two years with the Steamboat Springs High School girl's tennis team has given Kelli Parnell a pretty good idea of what it takes to be a No. 1 singles player.
She knows it helps to have a rocket-powered serve that can make an opponent's feet feel as though they've been set in concrete and a backhand that can make another player's stomach fall faster than if they were seated in the front seat of a roller coaster.
But the junior also has learned that when you earn the No. 1 singles position, as she has, there is a lot more to worry about than just playing tennis.
"There is a lot of pressure. It's pretty scary," Parnell said at the start of the Sailors practice Thursday. "But I like it."
Parnell expects the team's top singles player to exhibit a sense of confidence on the court. The player must be positive, and above all, must be having fun when playing the game.
"I want my teammates to see that I am having a good time and that I'm a good sport," Parnell said
Parnell and her Sailor teammates have been practicing for the past month. They will get to play Saturday when they open the season at home against Hotchkiss and Paonia at the Steamboat Springs Tennis Center. The matches are scheduled to begin at noon.
Parnell moves to the No. 1 position after advancing to the state championships last year in the No. 2 slot.
Breanne Murray will fill the Sailors' No. 2 slot, and Stacy Cavanagh will fill the No. 3 slot.
Coach John Aragon said the players established themselves in challenge matches earlier this season and he expects that part of the lineup to remain the same this season.
However, defining the Sailors doubles players has not been as easy.
"We have five very good doubles teams fighting for four spots," Aragon said. "It's going to be a tough decision figuring out which teams will get to play."
Right now, it looks as if the team of Megan Mooney and Martha Bender will be competing with Kristin Toy and Cori Evans to fill the No.1 and No. 2 doubles slots. The teams of Tara King and Adele Dombrowski, Rebecca Timmerman and Brittany DeGroff, and Amanda Toy and Anya Salzgeber will be fighting for the remaining spots.
Aragon said that Megan Gonio and Danielle Tredway also might enter the fray before any decisions are reached
Aragon also is trying to figure out where an exchange student, Hana Illic, will fit into the equation.
"We are a real young team," Aragon said. "But we are going to be solid and I think we are going to surprise some people."
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