The Lady Panthers tennis squad traveled to Grand Junction for regional play last weekend, showing well but coming home disappointed.
Kristen Parker, the top singles player for the Panthers, played against Durango in the first round and lost a tough match to Erin Neale 3-6 and 7-6. The deciding second set was a long battle of powerful ground strokes and lasted close to an hour. Parker played an excellent game to tie the score at 6-6 and then lost the tiebreaker 2-7.
Panther coach Dan Wood said the senior showed character, overcoming an illness and demonstrating sportsmanship while playing some of the best players in the state.
"She had all the skills to play well at state," Wood said.
Sadee Threlkeld opened the tournament with a solid victory over Erica Decker from Montrose 6-4 and 6-3. The Panther senior had earned a bye/win in the first round due to her victories during the season and moved on to the semifinal match against Courtney Thomas of Vail Mountain. Threlkeld played excellent tennis but lost the match to Vail 2-6 and 2-6. Threlkeld also overcome a bad ankle sprain and won the majority of her matches over the year.
Nicole Demby, #3 in Panther singles, was very close to state qualification and won the third place ribbon at this regional championship, among 12 teams. She also drew a bye in the first round and defeated Madison Farmer from Delta 6-2, 6-4. Sophomore Demby used her agility and accuracy to win the first set in the semifinals against senior Sadie Dickenson from Glenwood Springs. Both players exhibited unusual accuracy for more than an hour and played a tiebreaker, which Dickenson won. Demby only missed going to the finals and most likely the state championship by a few points. She then went back to work and won third place with a victory over Paonia senior Lexi Johnson.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Nicole Demby will be one of the best players in the state next year," said coach Wood.
Seniors Emily Walck and Mary Wright entered regionals with an undefeated season, including a first-place finish at the Delta County Tournament, and earned a bye in the first round. They then faced Durango in the semifinals. Walck and Wright had a win against the Demons earlier in the season but lost a tough match against Meredith Nass and Kit Hacket, 4-6 and 4-6. They then rallied and scored victories over Aspen and Glenwood Springs to take third place in this highly talented doubles competition.
Senior Jessica Quinonez and sophomore Jaci Veach were seeded fourthth in #2 doubles play and were awarded a bye in the first round. The duo had some bad luck and lost the match to Rachel Redders and Anna Wright 6-2, 6-2.
Sophomores Tori Calliham and Kearra Boggs also tried hard but lost to #3 Doubles Hotchkiss 3-6, 2-6.
Skye Cole and Racquel Lucero, #4 doubles freshwomen, played great tennis and finished in 3rd place with victories over Cedaredge, Durango, Vail Mountain. They played well in their state qualifying match against Montrose but lost 6-2 in the final set.
The 2013 Lady Panthers finished in fifth Place at Regionals.