Matches were won, matches were lost, and memories were made.
Such was the story for the Montezuma-Cortez High School girls tennis team, which wrapped up the season at the Region 8 Tournament in Grand Junction, May 8-10.
Leading the way for the Panthers, No. 3 doubles players Sera King and Paige Bailey were outstanding, finishing third overall in the 11-team tournament.
Entering play as the tournament’s second overall seed, Bailey and King took advantage of a first-round bye before dominating Glenwood Springs in the second round, 6-1, 6-0.
Next playing against Durango in the third round, Bailey and King again looked solid, besting their red-clad rivals, 7-6, 6-2.
Playing in the finals with a trip to the state tournament on the line, Bailey and King were defeated by Steamboat Springs, 6-4, 6-2.
Although the group still could have qualified for state with a consolation bracket victory over Montrose, a trip to Colorado’s big dance was not to be as King and Bailey lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
“(King and Bailey) were really close,” said Panthers head coach Dan Wood. “They played some of the best tennis they have ever played, but so did all of the other schools.”
Also registering a win for the Panthers, No. 2 doubles players Tori Calliham and Laurel Chappell beat Vail, 7-5, 6-2 in the first round. Calliham and Chappell were unable to continue their ways in the second round however, as the group lost to Hotchkiss, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Providing a highlight for the Panthers at No. 1, singles player Tara Abrams battled a tough opponent from Delta before losing in the first round, 1-6, 6-2, 7-5.
“(Abrams) played the best tennis she was ever played,” said Wood. “It was incredible to watch her match.”
At No. 2 singles, Raquel Lucero lost to Glenwood Springs, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, while at No. 3 singles, Kearra Boggs lost to Delta, 6-4, 6-4.
Panthers’ No. 1 doubles players Jaci Veach and Skye Cole suffered a first round loss to Durango, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, while M-CHS No. 4 doubles players Natasha Gordon and Ashley Moore lost to Cedaredge, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Assessing his team’s overall performance, Wood spoke glowingly about his players’ overall improvement during an up and down season.
“The girls had their disappointments, but as we’ve talked about all year, frustration and losing can make you stronger,” Wood said.
Speaking about seniors Tara Abrams and Jaci Veach, Wood had good things to say, thanking the two veterans for their contributions during the year.
“They demonstrated good leadership during the year,” said Wood. They showed up early and stayed late. They brought the team together in a very effective fashion.”