No one had to tell Chandler Begay to continue playing her game.
In the middle of the state championship badminton match, the Chandler High senior abandoned a winning style, and that proved costly. Begay instituted not an abrupt change, but a subtle transformation of her style and that may have cost the Chandler senior the state crown.
Ahead by one game in the finals against Jessica Michael of Xavier, Begay had only to maintain a strong level of play and continue to be aggressive.
Instead, Michael began dictating the tempo of the match, and eventually dropped a 6-11, 11-4, 11-5 decision to Michael at Glendale Independence High School on Saturday afternoon.
With Michael winning the Division I singles state title, that marked the second straight year an Xavier player captured the championship. Last season, Cate Welsh took the crown for the Gators.
This time, Begay had an opportunity to capture the championship, and admits a change in her approach was a significant reason for her late struggle.
"After I won the first game, I said to myself, 'Oh, I have this,'" Begay said afterward. "Then, I fell into her game instead of playing my game."
In the second game, Begay began to play cautious, and eventually allowed Michael to gain control. The direction of the title match began to change, and Michael started to make shots she missed earlier in the match.
In the meantime, Begay changed to a clearing game, instead of dropping more shots and confusing her opponent that worked well all season.
That opening was all Michael needed and cruised to the title with a decisive, third game victory.
Still, the season was one of triumph and success. Begay returned to singles play after repair on her ACL following a basketball injury. She went undefeated this autumn, and moved into the state tournament as the number two seed.
"I would not change anything," she said. "We all gave great support, and my teammates made this a special year."
Now, Begay moves on to Northern Arizona University to study sports medicine, but leaves a long shadow.
"She's loyal, she's dedicated, she's an athlete, and everything you could ask for from a person," Chandler coach Lois Emshoff said. "In this tournament, she gave it everything and, as a coach, that's all I ask."
In the state doubles competition, the Chaparral team of Courtney Foltz and Alex Hoffman lost to the No. 1 seed of Kiyoko Hashimota and Vashnavi Koka of Mountain Pointe, 15-5, 11-15, 15-13.
In third place singles match, Callie Branyan of Gilbert, the top seed entering the tournament, defeated Armandine Joannesse of Red Mountain, 11-5, 11-8.