This has to be, unquestionably, one of the most interesting 4A Girls' Tennis Championship every played. Each match was a story, starting with, of course, the fact that Highland added year two to what appears to be a four-year dynasty.
The Rams amassed 22 points in two days of competition to 18 for runner-up Timpview. They were followed by Hillcrest with nine, East with seven and Alta, American Fork and Pleasant Grove with five each.Starting at the top, Jennifer Jensen of Hillcrest, hit a goal she set exactly one year ago almost to the exact hour. Jensen beat Angela Nelson of Highland, at No. 1 singles, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
In last year's final the outcome was reversed. Nelson, then a freshman, beat Jensen, then a junior, in straight sets.
"I set a goal after right then," she said after the match, "to win this. I glad I played well. I was afraid I wouldn't. There were times at the end when I let up because I wanted to win do badly. Sometimes I do that."
At the onset it looked like Jensen was going to breeze through the match without working up a bead of sweat. She hit risky shots in the first four games, made every one and went up 4-0. Then, as she admitted after, she let up.
In the third set Jensen broke in the first game and had three match points on Nelson's service in the last game. On the third try, Nelson pushed a forehand short to end the match.
At No. 2 singles, Sara Mecham became the only repeat winner of the Highland singles trio that dominated this event last year. Mecham, a sophomore, beat Amy Overton of Timpview, 6-2, 6-1.
Mecham said she liked to come to the net a lot and was able to play "her game" in the finals.
The most interesting story of this tournament surfaced at No. 3 singles. An unknown, Lotis Hitosis of Timpview, an exchange student from the Philippines, played Libby Romney, winner of this division last year and the third singles player in the Highland dynasty.
Hitosis, who had lost only one game in three previous matches, ended up losing only one game this entire tournament in beating Romney, 6-0, 6-0.
But the real story is even more interesting. Hitosis' mother learned to play tennis from doctors that were treating her mother for leprosy. The mother in turn taught her daughter to play on the one and only court in town.
It was a grass court and Hitosis learned to play in her bare feet. It wasn't until she moved to Orem this past summer to go to school that she put on her first pair of tennis shoes. And it wasn't until she began playing for Timpview four weeks ago that she played in her first high school match.
And it was in this final match that she felt her first breath of cold winter. The cool temperatures and the match cause her to suffer leg cramps midway through the second set. When the last point caught the corner and Romney didn't return it, she collapsed on the court in pain. It took several minutes before she was able to get up and leave the court.
For Highland Coach Bob Hardy, this second title was his most satisfying.
"Last year," he admitted, "we didn't even have to show up for the finals. This year we did. This year the pressure was on us to win."
Comforting, of course, is the realization that he loses only two players to graduation - Romney and Lisa Foulger, a member of Highland's No. 2 doubles team. The rest - Nelson, Mecham, Maureen Evans and Rebecca Foulger, winners of the No. 1 doubles, and Colleen Evans, the other half of the No. 2 doubles - all return.