The Steamboat Springs girls tennis team is still in the running for a regional championship. One singles player and two doubles teams are in the finals, to be played today in Grand Junction.
The Sailors concluded the first day of regional competition Friday in third place with 39 points, leaving them 11 points behind leader Aspen and seven points behind runner-up Hotchkiss. Steamboat's girls have never won a regional championship.
"It's anybody's game," coach John Aragon said. "I think it's a race between the top three. Aspen can be caught. We'll have to win all our matches to do it."
Steamboat's Breanne Murray will play in the regional finals in No. 2 singles. Britt DeGroff and Rebecca Timmerman, the Sailors' No. 3 doubles team, and Adele Dombrowski and Tara King, the No. 4 doubles team, also will play for regional titles today.
Murray, DeGroff and Timmerman went to Grand Junction confident after successful seasons, but Aragon isn't surprised with the success King and Dombrowski are having as well.
"They are good athletes, and I can never count them out," Aragon said. "They barely pulled it out, but I expected them to be in the finals."
The top two teams and individuals from each of the seven brackets will advance to the state tennis tournament to be held May 13 to 15 in Pueblo. The five Steamboat athletes in the finals are sitting in good positions, assuming they don't lose in the finals and in a subsequent playback, if that is warranted.
In regional tennis, the team or individual that finishes third is granted the right to play the runner-up if they have not previously met in that tournament.
Three Sailors find themselves in that situation.
Stacy Cavanagh, the No. 3 singles player, and Cori Evans and her teammate Kristin Toy, the No. 1 doubles team, are in playbacks for a shot at third place. Should they finish third and a team they have not faced finishes second, they will have the chance to play for the coveted second spot.
Aragon said there is a good chance that will happen.
The tennis season did come to an end Friday for Steamboat's No. 2 doubles team of Megan Mooney and Martha Bender, both seniors. Mooney sprained her ankle Wednesday, but Aragon said the injury didn't appear to play a role in their elimination.
"We taped it and she was in pain, but she moved well," he said. "We couldn't finish the game-winning points. Pretty soon, we lost some confidence. It's tough to see the top team in the league not win, and they are taking it pretty hard."
Steamboat's No. 1 singles player, Anya Salzgeber, also was eliminated Friday. Salzgeber did not play singles all year for the Sailors, but she was a last-minute replacement for junior Kelli Parnell who suffered an ankle injury Wednesday that prevented her from taking the court.
Parnell was not the favorite to win the regional championship, but she had a shot at finishing second. Her points would have Steamboat sitting even higher in the team race, Aragon said. Parnell did make the trip to regionals.
"These kids want to give it their all," Aragon said. "(Co-coach Don Toy and myself) are really proud of how hard these kids fight for points ... to get us in a position to win."