The Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team accomplished one new feat during the weekend's three-day state championship tournament in Pueblo, when senior Molly Weiss won the program's first individual title.
Beyond that, the 2008 results looked a lot like the 2007 results, which looked a lot like the 2006 results.
Steamboat finished with 35 points and in fourth place at the state tournament, just a few more points than it scored a season ago to finish in the exact same spot. Fourth place is one slot better than the team finished in 2006.
Buried in that consistency, and mixed with a little disappointment that the team didn't finish higher, there is plenty of confidence that the program has a promising future.
"Next year, we'll have so many people back, and we have so many good freshmen coming up," said Steamboat sophomore Sara Bearss, who earned a medal playing with fellow sophomore Kylee Swiggart in the No. 1 doubles bracket. "If we all work it, we can really make something of this next year."
Steamboat will lose three critical seniors: No. 1 singles player Lisa Floyd, No. 3 singles state champ Weiss and No. 3 doubles player Alexis Lezin. It returns the remaining eight, however, who all picked up valuable experience during the weekend in Pueblo.
Shelby Reed, the team's No. 2 singles player, finished third but had little trouble with anyone the entire weekend with the exception of the eventual state champ.
Steamboat's No. 4 doubles squad, with freshmen Claire Parsons and Kaitie Breisch, also lost to the eventual champions after advancing to the semifinals. The pair took that team to a tiebreaker in the first set. Bearss and Swiggart also just missed taking the first set of an eventual two-set loss in the semifinals.
A point here or there, and it could have been an entirely different tournament, Steamboat coach John Aragon said. But more so, it's encouraging for next year.
"I thought we'd have a few champions out of this group. Coming in, I thought we had the second-best team, but that didn't work out," Aragon said. "They have the ability, but now we need to spend the time on the court."
Exactly how next year's team will look won't be clear for about nine months. With two singles opportunities opening up, one or more of this year's three intact doubles squads could be dismantled.
"I'd like to see all these kids try to be one of the three singles players," Aragon said. "They need to go work on their game and try to be at the top, and from there, we'll fill in the doubles teams. If we can do that, have 11 girls fighting to play singles, we'll be a team to contend with next year."
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