The Steamboat Springs girls tennis team will go after its first regional title when play opens at the two-day tournament in Grand Junction on Friday.
The depth in the Sailors' region, however, makes it difficult to pinpoint a runaway favorite to win it all.
Steamboat coach John Aragon said the team with the strongest showing in the top three doubles brackets may have the best chance to take home a regional championship, which may bode well for the Sailors.
Steamboat's No. 2 doubles team of Martha Bender and Megan Mooney has lost just once in doubles competition in dual matches this season. Both seniors, Bender and Mooney also have regional experience.
The Sailors' No. 3 doubles team of junior Britt DeGroff and sophomore Rebecca Timmerman has no regional experience, but they think they are capable of playing well in the tournament atmosphere.
"We're heading in pretty confident," DeGroff said.
The No. 1 doubles team of Kristin Toy, a freshman, and Cori Evans, a sophomore, also has limited regional experience, but the pair has played a lot of tennis since last summer and made noticeable improvements during the course of the season.
"We played in a tournament together and played against each other," Evans said. "Our warm-up is to play each other."
At the No. 1 doubles slot, Toy and Evans are sometimes matched up against girls capable of playing singles but who instead wish to focus on doubles.
The Sailors leave today for Grand Junction, where the regional tournament will be played at four different sites. Timmerman said the team has spent a majority of practice time this week on the hard courts in match play.
Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-90s in Grand Junction this weekend, which means the temperatures could reach 100-plus degrees on the hard courts near Mesa State. Timmerman said Aragon already has informed the team to expect hot conditions and prepare accordingly.
The top two individuals or teams from the regional brackets advance to the state tennis tournament May 13 to 15 in Pueblo.
Freshman Breanne Murray, Steamboat's No. 2 singles player, heads into the regional competition with an 8-0 dual match record. Junior Kelli Parnell at No. 1 singles and the No. 4 doubles team of sophomore Tara King and junior Adele Dombrowski have the most points with 19.5.
Points are given based on wins, tournament placement and number of times played during the regular season. Junior Stacy Cavanagh rounds out Steamboat's team at No. 3 singles.
The teams in Steamboat's region are Aspen, Cedaredge, Cortez, Delta, Hotchkiss, Glenwood Springs, Montrose and Paonia.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org