Injuries have a remarkable way of serving as motivation.
Ask Kelli Parnell and Stacy Cavanagh. Last year, Parnell broke her foot the day before the regional tennis tournament. Before her final season of volleyball, Cavanagh blew out her knee and wasn't sure she would be able to play tennis at all this season.
This winter, doctors cleared Cavanagh to play doubles, and the smile hasn't left her face since. Par-nell recovered fully from her broken foot and is playing some of the best tennis of her life.
On Saturday, along with senior Brittany DeGroff, Parnell and Cavanagh will take the courts in their final high school season, serving as leaders of one of Steamboat Springs' best girls tennis teams in recent memory.
Steamboat hosts Cedaredge at 10 a.m. and Delta at 1 p.m. at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Those times are tentative.
"I'm really happy with the way I'm playing," said Parnell, who will be the team's No. 1 singles player again this season. "I want it so much more this season. I feel like I'm a lot more confident."
Sophomore Breanne Murray, who played at state last year, will play No. 2 singles, and freshman Lisa Floyd earned the No. 3 singles slot after beating fellow freshman Molly Weiss in a playoff. Weiss will join Cavanagh at No. 1 doubles, which coach John Aragon thinks may benefit the young player in the long run.
"That's a win for Molly," Aragon said. "She has a better tennis game than Stacy, but Stacy is such a competitor. ... If the seniors set a tone and work hard, the younger kids will follow suit. We have three quality seniors. They are competitive and athletic."
The No. 2 doubles team likely will be Adele Dombrowski and Kristin Toy. DeGroff and Rebecca Timmerman, who teamed up to qualify for state last season, will be at No. 3 doubles. Anya Salzgeber and Megan Gonio will be at No. 4 doubles. Kerry Enochs, Bailey Moore, Lizzie Stoll and Heidi Hillenbrand also could play their way into the final varsity spot on No. 4 doubles.
Dombrowski and Tara King also qualified for state last season, but King is out for track exclusively this year after splitting time between the two sports last spring.
"This year, we have a solid team," Parnell said. "Everyone is able to hit with each other."
In addition to the experienced players, 19 freshmen are out this season. Many have limited tennis experience, but Aragon is excited about their potential.
"It will be fun to see how much they improve," Aragon said. "We have some building blocks for the future."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org