It's all a state of mind

Five tennis players hope to play well in first trip to state

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The honor of riding down to the state tennis tournament with country-music lovers John Aragon and Don Toy went to Sailors players Britt DeGroff and Rebecca Timmerman. Well, it was an honor except for the whole country music thing.

While DeGroff and Timmerman couldn't say they were thrilled about the Wednesday drive with their coaches, they were looking forward to the destination: the 2004 Class 4A State Tennis Tournament that opens today at Pueblo City Park.

DeGroff and Timmerman, along with teammates Breanne Murray, Tara King and Adele Dombrowski will represent the Sailors at this year's state tournament.

This will be the first state trip for all five, so Aragon, who has made countless trips as one of the boys' coaches, said he will offer his advice on warming up, staying loose and what to do during the hours of simply waiting for a court.

Play is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. today, but Aragon said it's likely the No. 4 doubles team of King and Dombrowski could be sitting around until 11:30 a.m. before taking the court. Murray, the No. 2 singles player, is used to tournament formats similar to the state format, and she's familiar with the preparation it takes to be ready to play. She defeated Glenwood Springs' Courtney McCallum to win the regional championship.

"The way I've played has gone from good to better," Murray said. "Since I've (competed in tournaments in the past) I'm nervous. These girls are competitive and want to win just like me."

Murray opens against Greeley West's Christie Hudson this morning. Though Murray is a freshman, she has more competitive experience than any of her teammates heading to state, particularly King, who just started the sport this season.

King and Dombrowski, who picked up a regional championship against Hotchkiss' Meghan Beard and Lela Rundle, open against Clarissa Castillo and Mikaelah Carullo of Pueblo South.

"I never thought I could ever go to state my first year," King said.

Dombrowski said she and King are close friends so she had no reservations about playing with the tennis rookie. Dombrowski has had to remind and explain several rules or regulations to King, but it's tough to complain about results when the state tournament is the next stop.

"We just want to play well," Dombrowski said.

The state tournament, which ends with Saturday's championship matches, is the last stop for the tennis team this season. That is welcome news for teachers who had to accommodate the heavy travel schedule.

DeGroff said she counted 10 absences while Timmerman has had to miss class 12 times. DeGroff said her teachers have been flexible to allow her to play tennis. The pair placed second at the regional tournament, which ensured them a trip to state.

"Regionals went a lot better than I excepted," DeGroff said.

But there aren't any expectations for state, both said. They open against Kent Denver's Julie Lotman and Katie Brezinski and hope to play well.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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