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Steamboat's Parsons picks up 3rd at state tennis

Senior closes tennis career with victory

Claire Parsons chases down a return Saturday during the third-place match in the No. 3 singles bracket of the state tennis tournament in Pueblo. Parsons won the match in three sets to close out her senior season with a third-place medal.

Claire Parsons chases down a return Saturday during the third-place match in the No. 3 singles bracket of the state tennis tournament in Pueblo. Parsons won the match in three sets to close out her senior season with a third-place medal.

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Alli Lowrie serves as Rachel Grubbs awaits a return Saturday at the state tennis tournament in Pueblo. The pair, Steamboat's No. 3 doubles team, finished fourth in their bracket.

Results

No. 3 singles

Claire Parsons, Steamboat Springs, def. Catherine Arend, Mullen, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2

No. 3 doubles

Lily Iacino and Alex Vossmer, Regis Jesuit, def. Alli Lowrie and Rachel Grubbs, Steamboat Springs, 6-1, 6-1

— Steamboat Springs High School senior Claire Parsons seemed almost out of character as she said it.

Speaking Friday afternoon after clinching her spot in the consolation finals of the No. 3 singles bracket at the state tennis tournament in Pueblo, Parsons, typically a bulldog competitively on the court, said she wasn’t worried about the outcome of the final match of her high school career.

“I was trying to protect myself,” she said a day later.

Turns out, there was no need. Parsons’ deliberate style broke down her opponent, Catherine Arend, of Mullen, slowly at first and then quickly as big points turned into lopsided games and one final landslide set. Parsons placed third at state, winning, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

“Claire brought herself up to the level she needed to be at,” Steamboat coach John Aragon said. “She’s a kid with a lot of heart, a great personality and a lot of poise on the court. She’s really a well-balanced, well-matured young lady, and we appreciated having her on the team.”

Steamboat’s only other competitors on the day, the No. 3 doubles team of Rachel Grubbs and Alli Lowrie, finished fourth, losing to Lily Iacino and Alex Vossmer, of Regis Jesuit, 6-1, 6-1.

The day, as far as Steamboat was concerned, belonged to Parsons. It didn’t appear that way early, however.

Arend deployed a devastating forehand early in the match and Steamboat’s most accomplished senior could only barely keep up. Parsons went ahead 5-4 in the first set, but dropped the next four games, losing the first set and falling behind early in the second as Arend blasted the ball from corner to corner.

“She had times where she would just really hit the ball and move me around, and I couldn’t stop it,” Parsons said. “I just tried to stay levelheaded through that.”

The match began to change in the second set. Parsons, who had complained of tired legs early, livened up. The score was tied at 2 and then 3, and then Parsons won two in a row to go up 5-3. Her serve had never been off, but it grew in effectiveness, and she turned to it to close out the set. Parsons briefly let Arend back into the final game after agreeing to re-serve what would have been an ace but closed it out anyway one point later.

Arend briefly regained form in the third set, but Parsons never truly relinquished control, rebounding from a 2-1 deficit to win the final five games of the match in dominating style.

“I was moving the ball around, and I wasn’t playing safe,” Parsons said. “She realized I wasn’t going to give up.

“Third place in my senior year at state feels pretty good.”

Parsons was at worst consistent on Saturday, and that allowed her time to dig deep and find great. Lowrie and Grubbs weren’t so lucky.

They fell behind quick against the talented Regis pair and never found much traction.

“We weren’t really prepared for what they did,” Grubbs said. “They did a really good job getting the ball back every time.”

It wasn’t the kind of match they’d hope for after getting through two gritty three-set showdowns Friday, but the final match’s outcome didn’t do much to spoil their trip to Pueblo.

Each earned their first state tournament medals.

“We played well all weekend, and we fought the whole way through,” Lowrie said.

“It still feels pretty good to get fourth,” Grubbs added.

Steamboat finished seventh as a team with 19 points, a few slots lower than Aragon had hoped heading into the weekend. Cheyenne Mountain dominated the tournament with 69 points while Regis was second with 52 and Broomfield third with 44.

Steamboat didn’t earn a trophy, but the whole team did collect one award Saturday. The Sailors were named the winners of the sportsmanship award, an honor voted on by the tournament’s coaches.

“We’re pleased some kids got to medal, and the effort, the energy and the commitment to one another is positive,” Aragon said. “I thought, because of that, we’d fare a little better. But I tell ya, I’m as proud of this team as any team I’ve ever had. I love their attitudes. They’ve all got great, positive attitudes.”

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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