Palmer Ridge Babcock sisters trying to qualify for state tennis

By: brent w. new
May 2, 2013 Updated: May 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm

DENVER With the hood jacket draped over her face, Irene Babcock yo-yoed back-and-forth between her daughters' tennis matches.

'Watching can be frustrating, ' the Palmer Ridge mom said, as she walked from one daughter losing to the other daughter winning in their 4A Region 3 semifinal matches at Pinehurst Country Club.

She started at her oldest daughter's match, Shannon, who found herself outmatched in the semis by Denver South's Meagan Nonaghan, losing 6-1, 6-0 in No. 1 singles.

Shannon, a senior who took ninth in the 100 breaststroke in the 5A state swim meet a few months ago, said there was not much she could do to change her fate Thursday.

'She is just really, really good. When you play a girl like that you realize what it takes to be that good with all the time and dedication, ' Shannon said of Nonaghan, who won the state title in No. 1 singles her sophomore year and was runner-up last season. 'It was an honor and pleasure to play against her. '

Nonaghan plays tennis 12 months a year and plans to play at the next level. Shannon splits her time between swimming and tennis, but does not plan to pursue either in college. And Thursday, it showed.

'I felt like I had her with my forehand and serve, ' Nonaghan said. 'I was able to dictate the match pretty well throughout. '

After that match, Irene shuffled a couple of steps to her left and watched her other daughter, Diane, finish her commanding performance over Lewis-Palmer's Kristen Malloy 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3 singles.

Diane, a junior who plays tennis, volleyball and swims at Palmer Ridge, used her pinpoint placement to keep the upper hand throughout.

'I tried giving her dinky shots to hit, ' said Malloy, a senior. 'She doesn't like the dinky shots. She thinks about them too much. I tried to give her those, but not enough, so she kept pounding cross-court shots out of my reach. '

Diane can win the No. 3 singles in Region 3 Friday with a win over St. Mary's Academy's Suzy Xiao, who Diane lost twice to during the season.

'She has beat me pretty good so far, ' Diane smiled. 'But I'll come out more aggressive and change the pace a bit. We'll see if I can get some games that way. '

If the junior loses, she'll have to win a playback match to hold on to a state spot.

On the longer and less likely road, Shannon, who made state as a freshman in No. 2 singles, will need Nonaghan to win the No. 1 singles region title, while Shannon will have to win two more playbacks after winning one late Thursday.

Their mother, Irene, knows the road is obviously tougher for one of her daughters. But after she paused and thought, she said she'll be happy with however it plays out.

'Maybe one makes it and the other doesn't. Maybe they both do or neither of them do, ' she said. 'As long as they do their best, that's the best thing for them. You try not to stress about that and we'll all be happy for whoever makes (state) on this team. '

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