Tennis team sets sights high for 2003 |

Tennis team sets sights high for 2003

— It’s tough to look outside the Tennis Center and see snow piled halfway up the fence lines.

The 2003 season is under way for the Steamboat Springs girls tennis team.

Fortunately, the Sailors have the use of the indoor clay courts for practice and home matches.

Still, the team patiently waits for the first day it can practice on the hard courts.

“That’s where we’d rather be,” co-coach Beccy Brane said.

Carol Bailey serves as the other coach.

Nineteen girls are out for high school tennis this spring, with abilities ranging from beginner to advanced.

Senior Kim Heckbert and sophomore Kelli Parnell fall in the second category.

The two Sailors represent the state qualifiers from last season but neither is satisfied with last year’s results.

A summer spent practicing and playing in tournaments has left both more confident and visibly stronger.

“The past two years I’ve been focused on tennis,” Heckbert, a co-captain, said.

“I really want to make it back to state. I made the quarterfinals last year, but this year I want to place.”

Heckbert will play in the No. 1 singles slot for Steamboat. Parnell is penned in as the No. 2 singles player.

Ali Fisher is slated to go in the No. 3 singles slot for the Sailors.

The four doubles teams, however, are still in pencil, Brane said, as she and Bailey figure out which players to play where and with whom.

The increased number of athletes out this year compared to last has increased the depth of the team, Heckbert said. However, expectations are uncertain at this point.

“It’s hard to tell how the team will be,” Parnell said. “I just want to start playing.”

If individual goals are any indication, Steamboat is expecting great things.

Many of the girls want to cap off their season with a regionals victory and a state tournament berth.

Brane said she is excited the team wants to play well on top of having fun.

“This is a great group of girls,” she said. “They are so coachable and eager to learn. They are good athletes as well. The hardest part for me is I want to give them all private lessons, but I can’t because it’s such a large group.

“It’s just a joy to be with them and see them improve and love the sport.”

The season runs from mid-March until early May, but Steamboat’s three home matches come at the top of the schedule. The Sailors host Cedaredge, Delta and Montrose before the end of the month.

Cedaredge and Delta travel to the Tennis Center on Saturday for 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. matches. Montrose visits Steamboat on March 28 for at 1 p.m.

All of the Sailors’ home matches are free of charge and the public is invited to come watch.

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