Heber City – The Salem Hills girl’s tennis team made its first trek to Wasatch County on Wednesday to face the newest member of Region 8, the Wasatch Wasps.
On a beautiful sunny afternoon that turned to dark skies and gusting winds, the Skyhawks were able to outlast the host, winning three of the five varsity matches.
But it wasn’t easy for Salem Hills—Wasatch is proving, match-by-match, that it can be a formidable opponent any given outing.
“We really are so proud of these girls,” said Wasp head coach Audrey Hull. “We lost everybody last year—we were all seniors. So this has been a test for these young girls to step it up, and they’ve really risen to the challenge for us.”
Wasatch’ No. 1 singles player, Rachel Wetterland, was the first to finish her match, defeating Savannah Ward 6-2, 6-2. On the second court, the Wasps’ No. 2 singles player, Andrea Candland, battled hard but fell to Ashley Whiting 6-3, 6-4.
Wetterland, who played calm and composed throughout, managed to run her opponent left to right along the baseline. Ward, at times seemed frustrated and could not get any momentum in the match-up of each team’s best.
“It was fun out there today, I’m feeling a lot better the last couple of matches like I’m getting back into it," Wetterland said.
“It’s stressful with school starting again and your whole routine gets messed up. But it’s starting to get back to normal again.”
The Wasps’ number one player says she has seen a little bit of difference in the competition moving up to 4A, but she feels she’s hitting her stride at just the right time. “I hope to play some doubles soon and get that mixed into my game,” Wetterland said. “But the main focus is I hope to make state in 4A.”
Candland, who was the Lady Wasps' only winner last week in a tough region match at Spanish Fork, then won again on Tuesday when Provo visited Wasatch, could not get ahead of Whiting and was forced to play from behind.
“Andrea (Candland) has done really good for us this year—with the move up and all,” Hull said. “She played hard, as usual, but today just wasn’t her day.”
Wasatch’ No. 3 seed, Brie Porier, also a winner the day before against her Bulldog opponent, lost to Kenzi Hancock 6-0, 6-3. Hull explained it was tough for Porier to get it going today, feeling under the weather.
The weather has been a bit of an issue this fall with high temperatures the past two weeks and Wasatch playing a pretty busy schedule. The Wasps have had at least two matches a week and competed in the Ogden Tournament a week and a half ago.
“It’s been a very hard schedule, no doubt,” Hull said. “But we want to get the maximum amount of tennis in for our girls. The recent heat has just added to the difficulty, but we’re actually holding up pretty good. It’s youth and inexperience more than the heat.”
Wasatch didn’t fare much better against the Lady Skyhawks in the doubles matches. No. 1 doubles team Heather Evans and Sydney Quinton lost a marathon to Salem Hills’ number ones Kirtlyn Bohling and McKenzie Saunders. The match went down to a tiebreaker with Bohling and Saunders coming out on top 8-6.
At one point, the Wasps seemed to have things going their way in this one taking a 5-0 lead in the second set then letting it slip away.
It was another tough loss for Evans and Quinton who have gone to the wire several times this young season.
“There’s definitely some growing pains there,” Hull said . "Sydney (Quinton) is young and she’s a new partner for Heather (Evans). They’re still in a learning process. It takes some time with doubles, but we really like the way they’ve battled. They’re getting better every day.”
The match between the school’s No. 2 doubles was also a long contest. The Skyhawks’ Hayden Hullinger and Audrey Dayton battled with the Wasps’ McKenzie Densmoore and McKayla Lundskog. After over an hour and a half of play and with the blustering winds picking up under dark skies, Salem Hills took the match 6-7,6-3, 6-4.
Even though this day did not belong to Wasatch as a team in the win category, Hull feels very confident about the rest of the season.
“We’ve still got a lot of tennis to play,” she said. “We’re taking baby steps. Making adjustments as we go. But we feel like we’re right where we need to be.”
Wasatch High School Tennis: Lady Wasps cutting it on the courts of 4A
Andrea Candland of Wasatch High School serves to Salem Hill's Ashley Whiting during their No. 2 singles match on Wednesday afternoon in Heber City.
Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and contributes to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. To contribute to DNews Preps for your area, enquire at 801.237.2143.
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