By the time Breanne Murray and Lisa Floyd stepped on the podium after Saturday's state tennis championship round, the disappointment of losing had faded from their eyes.
"I'm not going to be disappointed very long," Murray said shortly after losing to Kent Denver's Lauren Miller in the No. 2 singles championships match, 6-2, 6-1. "Right now, I'm a little disappointed because I didn't play my best match, but I'm proud that I got this far."
Murray never really found her stride in her final match of the 2005 state championships. She struggled to find the same intensity that moved her past Colorado Springs' Kate Denny in the quarterfinals and Eaton's Whitney Cunningham in the semifinals.
She needed that same intensity Saturday to get past Miller to the state title.
"I think I psyched myself out before the match started," Murray said. "I think her history and the way she played in yesterday's match changed my focus today."
Miller's brutish personality combined with her aggressive play on the court makes her a tough opponent to line up against. On Friday, she moved past Cheyenne Mountain's Cayley Wetzig in a match marked by hard-fought points and, at times, heated tempers on the part of players and coaches.
Miller scored an upset win in that match, 6-2, 6-2, and left an impression on Murray that lingered into Saturday's finals.
Miller's reputation gave her a decided advantage in the early part of the contest when Murray came out a bit tentative.
Then Miller used hard, physical shots to close the door on any hope the Steamboat player had for a state title.
"It seemed like once I got down, she played even harder," Murray said.
Not too far away, Murray's teammate Floyd was hoping to defeat Kent Denver's Lindsey Kucera for third place.
But like Murray, Floyd never seemed to settle into her game and the Kent Denver player used solid, smart play to win the match, 6-1, 6-1.
"I don't think that we were prepared well enough for these matches," Steamboat Springs coach John Aragon said after the finals. "But I'm hoping these girls will use this experience for years to come."
After the match, Floyd turn--ed her attention to getting back to state and another shot at a title.
"It was a good experience for my freshman year," Floyd said. "It's raised my expectations for next year -- because there is no doubt that I'm going to get back here, no matter how hard I have to work."
She said the bar now has been raised for the entire Steamboat team. In addition to Murray's second-place finish and Floyd's fourth-place finish, the Sailors also picked up their best team finish -- fourth -- and won the award for best sportsmanship at the tournament.
Kent Denver came through with big wins in the finals to take the team title. Cheyenne Mountain slipped to second and Mullen moved past Steamboat in the finals to take third.
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org