Giving it her all

Central's Murphy advances to regional finals in No. 3 singles

Grand Junction’s Anne Hughes returns a shot Thursday to Heritage’s Amanda Ikard during Hughes’ 6-7 (8-6), 6-2, 6-3 victory in the No. 3 singles semifinals at the Class 5A Region 3 tournament at Elliott Tennis Center. Hughes will face Central’s Katie Murphy in today’s final.

Hitting the standard of maturity called “grown up” can happen anytime.

For Central High’s Katie Murphy, it happened relatively early in her life. She was 5 when her parents divorced. In eighth grade, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s worked at Texas Roadhouse since she was 16.

“I’ve been through a lot — I can’t point to one thing,” Murphy said. “At a young age I was responsible for myself.”

Tennis can be a game of wills, a one-on-one sort of boxing match where the first one to give in to the cutting and sprinting and desire to chase down a ball will likely fade. It’s a test of strength of spirit. Murphy, as Central coach Kathy Elliott said Thursday, is “probably the least skilled girl here, but she’s in the finals.”

Murphy does not have the height. “She’s not four inches taller,” Elliott said.

Murphy does not hit the ball with a lot of top-spin. But she will put the ball in play, work harder than the other person, and, if it’s a good match, watch as her opponent fades — head sagging and spirit crumbling.

And so Murphy is in today’s Class 5A Region 6 No. 3 singles final at 9:15 a.m. against Grand Junction’s Anne Hughes at the Elliott Tennis Center.

Murphy defeated Fruita Monument’s Sierra Segrest 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals.

Segrest defeated Murphy earlier this season, 6-0, 6-2.

This time Murphy was in a zone. Or rather, what she calls her “little bubble.” Hers is a bubble that does not pop.

“It’s just a bubble where I work hard, but also stay calm,” Murphy said. “I believe it’s very important to have strong mental fortitude.”

That is one reason Murphy, 18, has landed a full-ride scholarship to Johnson and Wales University in Denver. Murphy said the school awards one such scholarship each year.

Murphy will play Hughes, whose match lasted about two hours. Hughes defeated Heritage’s Amanda Ikard, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 6-3.

“I’ve played in a lot of long matches this year,” Murphy said. “I think subconsciously I like tiebreakers.”

Heritage leads the tournament with 46 points, followed by Grand Junction’s 42, Central’s 30 and Fruita Monument’s 29.

Also advancing to singles finals were, Central’s Aimee Basinski and Grand Junction’s Kylie Pond at No. 1 singles. They will face off at 9:15 a.m.

Basinski is 7-0 since recovering from her second sprained ankle this season.

“I’ve injured myself so many times in the past I can block out the pain,” Basinski said.

Tennis caused a high number of injuries for Basinski.

“Back, shoulder, elbow, knees, hips, ankles ... ” she said.

At No. 2 singles, Grand Junction’s Nicky Arja (10-1) and Fruita Monument’s Meredith Soychak will meet in a 9:15 a.m. final.

Arja and Soychak rebounded from dropping their first sets in the semifinals.

Arja came back from losing 4-6 in the first set against Rock Canyon’s Claire Wilt to win the next two 6-1, 6-3.

Likewise, Soychak dropped her first set 2-6, then won 6-4 and 6-2.

“I knew I still had a chance (after the first set),” Soychak said. “It was a new beginning — you have to forget about what happened.”

Class 4A

Steamboat Springs leads the Class 4A Region 8 tournament at Canyon View Park, having advanced all three singles players to today’s finals beginning at 9 a.m. Third- and fourth-place matches follow finals.

Playbacks begin at 8 a.m.


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