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Steamboat girls drop opener to Aspen

— Steamboat’s Allison Griffing went up against some of the toughest competition in the state as the Sailors tennis season swung into play Friday night.

After five consecutive Steamboat matches were canceled because of the weather, Griffing, the Sailors’ No. 1 singles player, faced off against Aspen’s Laura Gordon in the season’s home opener.

In two games of 6-1 and 6-0, Gordon, who was a state No. 1 singles champion as a sophomore and a runner-up last year, secured the win over Griffing.



“She’s really good, a wonderful player,” Griffing said. “I’ve been watching her play since my freshman year. I’ve never played her before.”

Griffing said Gordon had an overall good game with consistent ground strokes, strategic placements and strong serves. And despite some double faults, Griffing said her serves were also strong.



“I was happy with the way I served. I think she had a hard time with it. But I needed to stay consistent with the ground strokes and everything,” Griffing said.

With just one win in both singles and doubles play, the Sailors a dropped a 5-2 match to the Skiers.

While Aspen had played a handful of matches before taking on the Sailors, coach Emily Harris said her team had to get past some preseason jitters Friday. Steamboat and Aspen have traditionally had hard-fought battles in league play and Harris said the season usually begins with easier teams.

“Aspen is looking really strong, it’s there fifth or sixth match. They have got a little more playing time under their belts,” Harris said. “We’ve always gone back and forth with Aspen and we knew it was going to be a hard one to start out with.”

The Sailors’ No. 2 singles player, Kim Heckbert, lost her first match to Aspen’s Melissa Marws, 6-2 and 6-3. Heckbert said Marws’ ball placement and ability to move her around the court were keys to the match. But Heckbert said her serves were on.

In the first high school match of her career, freshman Kelli Parnell won at the No. 3 singles spot. After a close 7-5 set, Parnell calmed the pregame butterflies and took Aspen’s Becca Cote in the second set with a score of 6-0.

“I started feeling confident when I won the first set, so I started hitting (the serves) really hard, knowing that I could win,” Parnell said. “I was really nervous at first.”

The Sailors will continue their competition at noon today when they take on 5A Thompson Valley at home.


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