Match point

Steamboat poised to get fifth place after difficult state semifinal round


After a turbulent semifinal round, several members of the Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team headed into the playbacks searching for the motivation they needed to get back on track.

"This is not just for us," doubles player Kristin Toy said. " This was for the team, and none of us want to let our teammates down."

Toy and Molly Weiss pull ed off a hard-fought, three-set victory (6-0,3-6,6-4) against Silver Creek's Lexi Laursen and Annie Weiner in the No. 1 doubles playback.

"I'm really pleased with the way they came back," co-coach Don Toy said. "The emotions went back and fourth. It was a real gut check, and I'm proud of the way those girls stuck together as a team."

After winning the first set of the match, the Steamboat team let Silver Creek back into the match losing the second set, 6-3. The contest went to a third and final set, in which Weiss and Toy fell behind three games. But the team rallied, winning five of the final six games to collect the win and stay alive for third place in the state tournament.

On the next court over at Pueblo City Park, Shebly Reed also was looking for redemption in her match with Ralston Valley Junior Jacque Sykes after losing in the quarterfinals.

Reed got off to a fast start, winning the first set, 6-2. But in the second, Sykes used hard shots to take Reed out of her game, and get back into the match with a 6-4 win.

But just before surrendering the final point of the second set, Reed took a moment at the back of the court to collect her thoughts and evaluate her priorities.

"Right before she served the last point, I decided to stop playing for myself," Reed said. "I decided to play for the team, and for everyone I love. But not for myself."

Reed, who had lost both three-set matches she played this season, returned to the court for the third set with new determination. She didn't surrender a game to Sykes in the set, winning 6-0.

"I really wanted to win the third set," Reed said. "She (Sykes) started hitting harder in the second set. I kept trying to hit them back hard, and she would just hit them past me. I think I realized that she couldn't hit softer balls, so I took advantage of that in the third set."

She also will advance to today's finals, where she will play for third place as a freshman.

The news wasn't as good for Steamboat's No. 2 singles player Lisa Floyd or Steamboat's No. 4 doubles team of Tara King and Heidi Hillenbrand.

Floyd lost in the semifinals to Cheyenne Mountain's Alana Humpal, 6-4, 7-5. The disappointment of the loss carried into the playbacks, where Mullen's Cari Hudson downed the Steamboat player, 6-2, 6-5.

"I definitely could have beaten her," Floyd said about her semifinal match. "I wanted it so bad, but I guess she wanted it a little more. It was tough, but it was a great match, and she played great."

Floyd said she put so much into the semifinal match that she didn't feel right at the start of the playback a few hours later. She said it took a full set before she got her head into the match, and by the time she regained her game, it was too late.

"Lisa gave it all in her all in that semifinal match. She came back in the playbacks and was just going though the motions. At the end of the match, she started waking up and digging in, but it was just a little too late," Steamboat co-coach John Aragon said. "It's tough, but state is a learning experience, and this is what builds character."

For Steamboat seniors Hillenbrand and King, the final day of the state tournament was also a rough ride.

The team lost to Mullen in two sets in the semifinals, and then fell to Niwot in the playbacks, 6-2, 5-7, and 6-4.

Steamboat needed at least a couple of teams to advance to the finals for any chance of placing in the top three at this year's state tournament. The Sailors are expected to hold off Greeley West to hold onto fifth place in the final team standings, but Aragon is hoping for a solid showing from the players who are still going.

Mullen is leading the team standings with 58 points and is followed by Cheyenne Mountain, which has 53 points. Kent Denver has 40 points, and Pine Creek moved into fourth with 36 total points. Steamboat has 19, Greeley West has 14, and Ralston Valley has 12.

--To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209

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