SALT LAKE CITY — Judge Memorial girls' tennis coach Loni Wilcox avoids looking at the points board early in the 3A state tournament.
Don't tell her, but her team is currently tied for the lead after wrapping up the first two rounds on Friday at Liberty Park.
Judge earned seven points on the first day of play and has all three singles players set to return to the courts today.
"I am one of those coaches that doesn't pay attention to points because it makes me nervous, and these girls already make me nervous enough," Wilcox said after watching her first singles player, Whitney Weisberg, rally to win a second-round match in three sets with a score of 4-6,6-0, 6-3.
Weisberg, a sophomore, was the second singles champion last season before being promoted to first singles this year. Her opponent in that match was Cydnee Wilkinson of Dixie, a senior who finish second in first singles a year ago.
"That was probably the hardest match she has had to play the whole season – including region," Wilcox said of Weisberg. "So, when she lost the first set, I told her, 'this is your hardest match, you've got to get out there and hit and play like you usually do.'"
On the other side of the first singles bracket is defending champion Lacey Hancock, a sophomore out of Pine View. She slid through the first two rounds without losing a set and will meet Lily Wetterlin from Wasatch this morning.
Park City is the other team with seven points and it has both doubles teams returning to play on Saturday. First doubles pair Katie Hardman and Lauren Weed defeated a duo from Ogden and Cedar City for a chance to meet Marissa Christensen and Paige Beckstrom from Spanish Fork, and McKenna Tychsen and Natalie Frost defeated Ogden and Spanish Fork to play Caitlin Keenan and Maia Sepulveda of Juan Diego.
Deseret Hills, Dixie and Wasatch finished the day with six points apiece and have one, two, and two competitors left, respectively.
Although the North Sanpete Hawks exited the tournament without a point, head coach Jeff Eriksen left his team with a message all competitors should keep in mind.
"I told them that I've been (coaching) for 15 or 16 years and when I look back on it I can't remember losses and wins, and I can't remember even points, but I remember the relationships and the friends," he said. "Life is not over after a teenager girl looses a tennis match, but sometimes they feel like that. It's not about wins and losses all the time, and the friendships are what they're going to remember down the road."
When the 3A players return to the courts today, they won't be alone like they have been traditionally. This season, 3A joins 4A and 5A at Liberty Park, and all three classifications will crown their own five champions on the same day at the same venue.
"We usually have had 3A at a different site but, with the support of the coaches and of Utah Tennis, we had a chance to bring the tournaments together," said UHSAA assistant director Becky Anderson.
"This is a great opportunity for us to promote the sport of tennis," she continued. "With all three classifications in the same place, Liberty Park is going to be tennis central. It makes it nice for the players to get to watch other teams, and it makes it convenient for the media and college coaches, who may not have been able to make it to two sites before."
To manage the logistics, Anderson designated five courts on the north end of the complex to 3A, five courts in the middle to 4A, and five courts on the southern end to 5A. All matches will start at 9 a.m. beginning with first singles and working through to second doubles.
"Just think about this," Anderson said, "you can walk the length of the Liberty Park tennis courts and watch 15 different champions being crowned."
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