Maddie Thompson endures for third place at state tennis | SteamboatToday.com

Maddie Thompson endures for third place at state tennis

Sailors place 2nd, 3rd in 3A tournament

Steamboat Springs senior Maddie Thompson smiles after finishing her match for third place in No. 2 singles Saturday at the Class 3A state tournament in Greeley.

Class 3A state team results

  1. D’Evelyn 57
  2. Colorado Academy 54
  3. Dawson 54
  4. Holy Family 40
  5. Eaton 30 10

6. Steamboat Springs 28

  1. Aspen 18
  2. University 12
  3. Colorado Springs Christian 12
  4. Vanguard 9

— Maddie Thompson was just ready for it to be over, and it was nearly over for most of an hour.

Playing for third place in the Class 3A No. 2 singles state tournament, the Steamboat Springs senior had match point after match point, opportunity after opportunity. She did everything she needed to do to earn those chances, driving the ball to the corners of the court, scurrying back and forth on defense. The final point, however, eluded her, thanks to some dogged determination from her opponent, University sophomore Camille Krammer.

After winning the first set 6-3, Thompson built an insurmountable — or was it? — lead in the second. She led 5-2 in the first-to-six set at one point, then 5-3 and 5-4 before things knotted up at 5-5.

The pair won one more game each to tie again at 6-6, and the match went to a tiebreaker, but that, too, drug on.

Thompson got up big again, 5-2, nearly there in the first-to-seven format. But Krammer rallied yet again, tying things at 5-5, then 6-6 and 7-7.

Exhausted, Thompson stood on the court, staring at the end of her high school career and the final moments of her four trips to state.

She'd won only one match in her first three trips, combined, and never come close to a medal.

She'd waited years to make the podium at the state tournament, and there it was for nearly an hour, four whole games and a tiebreaker, third-place often just one strong winner away.

Finally, with a wicked cross-court shot from near the net that ended a long rally, she had it, a 9-7 victory in the tiebreaker and a 6-3, 7-6(7) victory in the match.

"I was just happy it was over," she said with a laugh. “I just didn't want to go into a third set. I knew I could do it, and I pushed myself.

"Third place means a lot to me. I love the team, and I was playing for them."

Thompson capped her career with a medal and, in so doing, earned the Sailors their biggest highlight of the last day of the state tennis tournament.

Steamboat's other competitor on the day, Mae Thorp, didn't get quite the same in-the-moment validation.

She did find some, however.

Thorp didn't make the trip to Greeley expecting to play for the No. 1 singles championship, and when the opportunity came, the moment seemed perhaps a little too big for her.

She was shaky early and didn't seize open opportunities when she got them, though there certainly weren't many to be had, as Colorado Academy freshman Sammy Moore-Thomson played an aggressive, confident match with few obvious errors.

Moore-Thomson went on to win the state championship, 6-0, 6-0.

"She was really good at getting it back, and hard," Thorp said. "I could have played way better. I was really scared, which is probably a big part of that. I was timid, not hitting all my shots. I should have just thought, 'What do I have to lose?'"

Still, it didn't take Thorp long to put it all into perspective.

Just as she hadn't come in expecting to compete for the championship, she hadn't come expecting to finish second, either, and that reward proved plenty fulfilling.

"It's a big accomplishment," Thorp said. "I realize it was cool that I made finals. I didn't think I'd make it this far, so it was really cool."

Both finalists are freshman, meaning this could be the first of several high-stakes run-ins.

Next time, Thorp said, she'll be more ready.

"I'll get her next year," she said, grinning.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9