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High school tennis: State 5A, 4A, 3A tournaments get under way this week

Published: Monday, Oct. 1 2012 10:47 p.m. MDT

Orem High's Erica Valimaki, the defending 4A champion at No. 1 singles, will have her sights set on a second straight state title when the 5A, 4A and 3A state tournaments get under way this week.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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Alta and Lone Peak split the overall team title in the 2011 girls state tennis tournament, with each claiming a pair of individual titles along the way. By the end of this weekend, every single point earned will be the deciding factor for the new champion.

Both have the tough task of defending the crown, with several teams poised to claim the top spot.

Lone Peak will have Taylor Calton leading the charge in first singles, opening up play for the co-defending champs against Brighton junior Amy Johnson. Calton managed to reach the semifinals in 2011, but was eliminated by Cottonwood senior Katie Sweet in a 7-5, 6-4 decision. Sweet has been a driving force behind the Colts since reaching the third singles championship as a freshman, and the first singles title match in 2011. Both losses have surely resonated with the senior, which should have her vying for the top spot in 2012. Sarah Sturt was also eliminated in her second singles title match in 2011, while Lea Ljubicic suffered an early quarterfinal exit in 2011 for the Colts. Sturt starts the day against Lehi freshman BrieOcea Harris in second singles, while Ljubicic faces Pleasant Grove junior Keslee Amussen.

Cottonwood has managed to finish second, third and fourth as a team since 2009, and surely leads the pack heading into Day 1 of the 2012 tournament.

Bingham comes into the tournament as a possible dark horse — it would simply be a matter of collecting crucial points, as the Miners qualified in every competition.

Sisters Cassie and Ally Caldwell both have a shot at their respective brackets, as both fell short to Lone Peak players in their region qualifier. Bingham senior Lexi Hansen faces a tough matchup against Alta junior Sarah Willes in the second singles opener.

Brianna Turley will lead Davis, returning as the defending champ at No. 2 singles. Older sister Alexis Turley saw a semifinal exit in last year's tournament, and could make some noise in the first singles bracket.

4A

Skyline saw great success in achieving last year's team title, leaving the second-place finisher 14 points back in the dust.

Erin Blessing can pick up a fourth consecutive title this weekend, should the senior survive any setbacks in 2012. First singles defending champion Erica Valimaki will lead Orem this year and will open play for the Tigers against Alexis Smith of Box Elder.

Defending No. 3 singles champion Sydney Monson returns to the courts for the Eagles, this year at the No. 2 singles spot, where she faces off against Woods Cross junior Rachael Roundy. Caroline Cantera will be the new face for Skyline in third singles, taking on Woods Cross freshman Sarah Crandall in the first match of the day.

While Woods Cross and Bountiful tied for second place in 2011, it was the Wildcats that took home both doubles championships.

This year Kanella Adamson takes the reins for the Braves at first singles, bringing an undefeated record into the 2012 tournament. Sara Jones and Mariah Miller finish out the singles play for Bountiful, with Miller in a tough matchup against Orem senior Lataushia Redwood.

3A

After Judge claimed the top spot in 2011, it seems fitting to give the defending champs a slight edge heading into Day 1. Katie Iwasaki and Whitney Weisberg look to defend their respective titles, while senior Emily Murnin is pressing to better a semifinal exit in 2011.

Pine View sophomore Lacey Hancock swept through the first singles competition on her way to a 2011 individual title, but you can bet Dixie's Cydnee Wilkinson has her sights set on Hancock after the title defeat.

Snow Canyon can rely on Bergen Nelson to move through second singles, and also senior Emily Till, who begins the tournament against Alayna Gunn of Morgan.

In the end, it all should play out through doubles action late in the day. Park City, Juan Diego and Pine View can all make positive things happen if their doubles squads are up to the task.

EMAIL: cjohnson@desnews.com

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