Cottonwood experienced some unprecedented success this year in 4A girls tennis. The Colts navigated through an ultra-competitive Region 6 to capture a region team championship a first-time accomplishment for the program.
In the state tournament, Cottonwood players McKenzie Davis and Erica Maier both reached semifinals at first singles and third singles, respectively before their seasons finally reached an end.
Even though no one on the Colts' roster could cap off their seasons with a state title, it did not diminish from the sense of success earning a region title gave to the season.
"It was good because it was the first time Cottonwood got a tennis trophy on the girls side," Maier said.
Helping Cottonwood rise up in its region was a senior-laden roster. Most of the players in singles and doubles had gained valuable varsity experience in 2006. The doubles side was also boosted by the return of Paige Watts. Watts, a senior, missed all of her junior season after injuring her ankle in a wakeboarding accident.
Another key factor was depth, a quality enhanced by the arrival of Davis.
Only a freshman, Davis burst onto the local tennis scene with a string of impressive victories. One of her best was a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Murray's Amanda Jensen in the Region 6 title match. It was no small task to limit Jensen to a pair of game victories, considering the Spartan senior twice finished as the 4A runner-up in first singles before this season.
Davis knew if she wanted to be numbered among the best players in the state, she needed to triumph against the best competition.
"My goal was to get a region title," she said after her final match against Jensen. "My goal was to beat Amanda Jensen actually."
Davis' quest for a state title, however, came to an end at the hands of eventual champion Callie Craig. The Orem sophomore bested her 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in a hard-fought semifinal match. But with three years still ahead of her, Davis has plenty of time to make an even bigger impact on the local tennis scene.
Cottonwood coach Sarah Hunt said facing some tougher opponents in the later rounds of the 4A tournament will prove a good learning experience for Davis.
"That was probably tough for her because she didn't face much competition until today," Hunt said, shortly after Davis' semifinal loss. "Even (a day earlier) she won those matches easily. She didn't lose a set all season."
Beyond having Davis, the team will slip into a bit of a rebuilding mode next fall. Nearly all of the varsity roster will graduate in the spring.
There are a few junior varsity players Hunt thinks show enough promise they might make a smooth transition to the varsity ranks.
Even so, it might be unrealistic to expect the Colts to claim another region title right away."Next year will be more of a building season," Hunt said. "This year it was definitely good we were able to take region. We definitely had a strong team. Girls that had been on the team for a year. I'm happy with them they were able to pull it off."