The 2007 Utah County state tennis story was a tale of mixed blessings as no team in either division could produce a team championship, but all together the valley grabbed four individual crowns.
While three of those trophies were expected, the fourth came as a bit of a surprise. Lone Peak's Cameryn Call, affectionately known around Utah tennis circles as the human backboard, took her long and wearing game straight through the tournament and all the way to the 5A third singles championship.
"She has an extra reserve, a never-say-die mentality," said Lone Peak coach John Lacognata about the girl who came off the soccer fields and into the minds of her opponents.
No matter who Call's opponent is, she'd better hang on for a long ride as a normal match for the junior champ runs well over two hours. She won't kill you with her power or her placement, but she loves to watch her opponents beat themselves as she returns everything they throw at her with soft strokes that hit well into the court. Opponents become easily flustered at both her lack of power and the fact that they just can't get anything past her, and it helps a great deal that she can run all day without feeling any ill effects.
"Cameryn's playing her normal match," was a typical refrain all season from Lacognata. You could hear almost the exact same phrase from all of the other coaches in the state too as one by one she wore their players down in exactly the same fashion.Her final victim in the state tournament was Alta's Mandie Divino, the heavy favorite, in a 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) battle. And that one victory snagged her team a tie for second place (12 points) in the 5A state tournament with Skyline, five points behind first-time state champ Alta.
Call wasn't alone on the court in the finals as the Knights' first doubles team joined her there on the next court over in a match against a Skyline doubles team that boasts one player, Katie Johnston, with a truly impressive winning percentage, only losing one match in her three-year career. But everyone agreed going in that if any team had a shot at dispatching the Eagles, it was the Whitney White/Bailee Henneman pairing the Knights threw at them.
And for a while it appeared they'd be able to do just that as White and Henneman roared out to a 6-3 win in the first set. But the second set was a different story as Johnston and her partner Hillary Hays rampaged back for the 6-1 second set, and the teams headed to the third.
"After taking the first set, we got a little tentative and had a lot of unforced errors," Lacognata lamented.
After falling behind 5-2 in the third set, the Lone Peak duo made a huge stand on a multi-deuce Johnston service game, eventually coming through and breaking her, but two games later they were gone with a 6-4 final score.
The Knights weren't the only Utah County school to place a competitor in the final as Spanish Fork's Kelley Argyle maneuvered her way through the brackets, finally ending her run against Alta's Ashley Tanner, 6-2, 6-2. The Dons also placed first singles Region 4 champ Rachel Reid into the semifinals, but she lost to eventual champ MaryAnne Macfarlane.
It was Utah County's first doubles teams that really put up a top-notch showing in the event as a group, as three of the four teams in the semifinals were from the valley. Timpanogos' Shayla Gibb and Taylor Thomas shot through the tournament from a four-seed, only to match up with old rival Lone Peak in the semis.
"Pleasant Grove upset us in the region tournament, which gave us a low seed coming in," said Timpanogos coach Suzy Hansgen, who added about her first doubles team, "They knew they were better than a fourth seed, and that gave them a lot of confidence."
Then after losing to the Knights in the semis, the T-Wolves' coach stuck around to cheer for her region rivals in their match against the favored Eagles.
The Spanish Fork duo of Alex Argyle and Danielle Jones joined their valley competitors in the semis but lost there to the Skyline pair. The Dons finished in a tie for fourth in the team race and are looking forward to next season when Rebekah Reid, Rachel's twin , will be back from injury, and they plan to add yet another powerful player to the mix, making the team a tough contender.And Pleasant Grove wasn't about to let itself slide away on the opening day either as its second doubles team of Madison Jorgensen and Torrey Best also lost to eventual champion Skyline in the semifinals.
The Orem Tigers did exactly as planned with their top-notch singles players and ramrodded all three to state championships. But despite boasting three state champs, the Tigers couldn't hold aloft the team title trophy for a second year in a row as Pine View took 4A by storm, placing all five of its divisions in the finals, taking one crown and scoring 22 points to Orem's 20.
The Tigers were able to put together a second place finish with their scary singles group, including first singles sensation Callie Craig and her twin sister, Kelsie Craig.
Callie breezed through her finals match against Pine View freshman Morgan Anderson after spending the off-season improving her game so she could snag a first singles state crown to go with her second singles title from last season.
Kelsie's game is a little different from that of her power-minded sister as she occasionally likes to junk her opponents to death, but her improvement over last year landed her with her sister's old trophy. She came into second singles without missing a beat, dismantling all players in her way, including Pine View's Melissa Cowles in the final, and added a second singles trophy to her shelf, which includes the third singles title from last year. Both girls are merely sophomores and want to add plenty more hardware to their collection in the coming years.
But the high caliber of Orem's singles play didn't drop off when it reached third singles this season as the Tigers' Andie Young proved someone other than a Craig can play title tennis when it comes to singles play as the junior easily kept up with her younger teammates, sliding into the finals without breaking a sweat and coming away with a swift victory over yet another Panther, Karlie Hancock 6-0, 6-3.
While their singles players were gliding their way to titles, the Orem doubles teams each lost in the second round. But two other doubles teams from Utah County did make their way to the semis.Mountain View's first doubles pair of Elena Pierce and Berklee Baum lost a heartbreaking three-setter to the eventual champions from East, and Timpview's second doubles team of Michelle Jaynes and Maggie Brown made their way into the semis against Pine View's only champs in second doubles. After splitting sets, the two teams battled to 7-5 in the fifth with the Panthers earning the hard-fought victory.