Steamboat Springs Lisa Floyd was relentless, Breanne Murray was driven, and Steamboat's No. 1 doubles team simply would not give up on the first day of the 2007 Colorado State High School Tennis Championships at Pueblo City Park.
"I think we battled well, especially at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, and I'm really pleased with our No. 1 doubles team," coach John Aragon said. "They left it all on the court, and that's what this team is all about."
Four of the 11 Steamboat Springs High School players who qualified for state will advance to play in today's semifinal round of the 2007 4A Girls State Tournament. Several other players advanced to the quarterfinals before losing, including No. 3 singles player Shelby Reed, the No. 2 doubles team of Kirsten Brehmer and Kylee Swiggart, and the No. 4 doubles team of Alexis and Valerie Lezin. Those players are awaiting the outcome of today's semifinals to learn if they get a chance to play for third place.
Steamboat's No. 3 doubles team of Kerry Enochs and Sara Bearss was knocked out of the tournament. The Steamboat players lost to Pueblo South in their first match of the day. Greeley West knocked Pueblo South out of the tournament in the quarterfinal round, ending any hope the Steamboat players had of getting back in the tournament.
"If we can get a few of these girls pulled back into the tournament, we could still score a lot of points," Aragon said about the team's chances at a strong overall showing. However, the Sailors best hope for winning a title in 2007 rests with the players who still are unbeaten.
Floyd cruised to the semifinal round with victories against Machebeuf senior Mikele Smith (6-1, 6-1) in the first round and Regis senior Amy Maas (6-1, 7-6 (6)) in the second.
"I just wanted to be aggressive at every shot I got. I didn't want to let it go to a third set," Floyd said.
Murray also took an aggressive approach to the first round. Murray, who failed to make it to the semifinals last year after finishing second in state as a sophomore, didn't want to lose on the opening day.
"I'm so excited right now," Murray said. "I wanted to find my game here and I think I have. I missed the semifinals last year, so this is pretty special. I'm a senior, and this is my last high school tournament, so there is no reason to play it safe."
Murray cruised through the first round by topping Fossil Ridge sophomore Michelle Wadas, 6-3, 6-2. In the second round, Murray survived a hard-fought first set with hometown favorite Sarah Housman of Pueblo South. The two players were tied at five points each in the first set before the Steamboat player came to life.
"I had to stop and tell myself, 'This is what I'm here for, I've got it,'" Murray said. She won the set, 7-5, and then sailed through the second set, 6-1, to keep her state title hopes alive.
Molly Weiss and Kristin Toy also are in the hunt for a title at No. 1 doubles. The Steamboat team topped Pueblo West, 6-2, 6-2, in the first set and then beat a talented team from Niwot in the second match, 7-6 (8), 0-6 and 6-3.
"We came out really strong in the first set, but we got down on ourselves in the second set," Weiss said.
Toy said she felt like she needed to elevate her game in the third set to match the play of her teammate. But both players took coach Don Toy's advice to remain positive.
The Steamboat players will be back at Pueblo City Park at 9 a.m. today for the semifinal round. The outcome of those matches will determine if Reed and Steamboat's No. 2 and No. 4 doubles teams get another opportunity to place.
Steamboat will need some help to get back in the team points race. Cheyenne Mountain is in first with 13 points, Greeley West is second with 12 points, and Steamboat and Niwot are tied for third with nine points. Mullen has 8, Ralston Valley has six and Kent Denver has three.