TAYLORSVILLE Things looked really good for Alta going into the final day of the Region 2 tournament. The Hawks earned the top seed after accumulating a seven-point lead over Brighton in region matches. And they had players from all three singles slots in championship matches.
But a major problem remained the second-seeded Bengals advanced players to every final match in both singles and doubles.
A couple of dropped matches could mean Brighton snatching the title out of Alta's grasp. The Hawks didn't feel as much pressure as you might expect, however, because they felt confident they had the talent to match the Bengals.
"Last time we played them, we did really well," said junior Ashley Tanner. "So we knew we could beat them. We decided to stay focused and play our best."
Alta withstood a potential Brighton challenge by sweeping all three final matches in singles. Mandie Divino earned the third singles title by beating Stephanie Nielsen 6-3, 6-2. Tanner claimed the second singles crown with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Emily Mattsson. The individual titles capped off undefeated records in region play for both Tanner and Divino fulfilling another preseason goal.
"I was hoping to make it through undefeated," Tanner said.
Aubrey Paul had a tougher time with Kimi Watts, a player who defeated her earlier in region play. But Paul survived a first set loss to beat Watts 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
The three victories pushed Alta's region point total to 63 and helped propel the Hawks to the school's first ever region title in the sport. Alta finished well ahead of the second-place Bengals, who had 52 points, and defending champion Skyline, which finished third with 48 points.
Getting a team title validated the Hawks' efforts to join the region's big two. And it was a sweet moment for everyone involved in adding to the school's growing championship tradition.
"It feels really good," Paul said. "We've all worked really hard. The team has supported and helped everyone go as far as they can and play the best that they can."
Here's how the rest of Region 2 fared:
SKYLINE: The Eagles took a unique approach to this season. Skyline coach Joanie Daily moved her experienced players into doubles and reserved singles to develop newer varsity players.
With additional talent to draw on, the Eagles easily captured both doubles region titles. Katie Johnston and Hillary Hays started the sweep off by defeating Brighton's Ali Spackman and Katie Larsen 6-1,6-0 in first doubles. Then Anna Adondakis and Kara Douville followed with a 6-2, 6-4 win over another Bengal tandem, Bristal Jacobsen and Jessica Osterloh, in second doubles.
Skyline hopes the momentum generated from these region titles will carry over this week.
"Having a good match in the finals helps you prepare mentally," Johnston said. "You're ready to play in state with the best teams."
Both Eagles doubles teams finished out region competition with undefeated records. It's old hat for a player like Johnston with multiple state and region titles to her credit. But for a newcomer like Hays, making it this far means a lot.
"I'm really excited to go to state," Hays said. "Ever since I've been watching my sister play, that's just what I've been looking forward to."
BRIGHTON: In many ways, the region tournament was equally a success and a failure for the Bengals. Brighton advanced players to championship matches in all three singles slots and both doubles slots. Unfortunately, the Bengals could not come away with a single region title to show for their efforts.
Still, Brighton is in a great position going into the state tournament. Every varsity player that qualified for the state tournament will go in as a second seed. And all seven have enough talent and potential to advance deep into the tournament.
JORDAN: The Beetdiggers sent only one qualifier to the 5A tournament, a by-product of Jordan accumulating several fourth-place finishes in a season where Region 2 could send only three seeds in each singles and doubles slot.
Katie Hess claimed the third seed in first singles after defeating Skyline's Emaline Steele in a consolation match.
TAYLORSVILLE: Angie Yates helped the Warriors achieve a rare glimmer of success in girls tennis by qualifying for state in third singles. Yates claimed the third seed after dispatching Skyline's Paige Kelly in a consolation match.HILLCREST: The Huskies did not send any qualifiers to the state tournament after finishing fifth or sixth across the board.