I have a lot of confidence in my singles players making it all the way through, so if we can get our doubles all the way through to Day 2 we should be in good shape —Heather Nicholas
Park City High's girls tennis team is in a familiar position heading into this week’s 4A state tournament — smack dab in the middle of the bull's-eye.
“They’re getting used to it. They know people are gunning for them,” said Park City coach Heather Nicholas.
The Miners’ past two state championships were in Class 3A, and this year they’re competing against pretty much the same teams in 4A after the UHSAA realignment.
Park City’s top players are no stranger to the setting. All three singles players are competing in their third straight state tournament, while its first doubles team also competed at state last year.
It’s the Miners' experience that could be the difference as Park City looks to edge contenders like Desert Hills and Ridgeline for a third straight title. All three teams swept all five positions in their respective regions.
“I think this is the first year in our region we won every line, one through six. We’ve gotten some second places in the past, but it was nice to see them pull it out in each line,” said Nicholas.
Desert Hills didn’t drop a set in any of its region meets, and then dropped only one set in the region tournament.
“Our region really pushed us hard. The teams in our region aren’t that weak. I think that was a good preparation for us,” said Desert Hills coach Dave Smith. “It will be a great state tournament. My girls are really looking forward to it.”
Desert Hills’ quest for the state title could rest on its doubles teams. In a preseason tournament earlier this year Desert Hills beat Park City in first doubles, but the Miners returned the favor in second doubles.
Considering the strength of Park City’s singles players, Desert Hills realistically needs to sweep the doubles competitions to wrack up the necessary points to be in the hunt for the team title at Liberty Park this Saturday.
The strength for Park City and Ridgeline is in singles play.
The reigning first singles champion is Ridgeline’s Naya Tillitt. As a freshman last year she beat Park City’s Livi Rockwood in three sets, 4-6, 6-0, 6-0. They’re on opposite sides of the bracket this year and will likely header for another finals showdown.
In a recent USTA match Tillitt beat Rockwood, now a junior, again.
Rockwood is no stranger to championship success either, though, as she won the 3A first singles title as a freshman two years ago.
Her twin sister Gabby Rockwood has a strong state tournament résumé as well, with a runner-up finish at second singles as a freshman and then a first-place finish as a sophomore. Last year she beat Ridgeline’s Kristen Johnson 6-0, 6-3 in the final, and they’re on opposite sides of the bracket again.
Park City’s third singles player, Taylor Matz, is seeking her third straight title.
“I have a lot of confidence in my singles players making it all the way through, so if we can get our doubles all the way through to Day 2 we should be in good shape,” said Nicholas.
Desert Hills’ singles players consist of two sophomores and a freshman. Its first two singles players are on the same side of the bracket as a Park City or Ridgeline competitor, but it’s on the opposite side of the bracket at third singles.
Ridgeline catches a break in the brackets at first doubles, as it’s on the opposite side of Desert Hills and Park City.
That could help both teams pick up valuable team points in a race that should be up for grabs on Saturday afternoon.
Friday’s first round
Rachael Dursteller, Green Canyon vs. Meghan Vehar, Spanish Fork
Morgan Behymer, Desert Hills vs. Aubree Allen, Bonneville
Livi Rockwood, Park City vs. Shayli Habibian, Snow Canyon
Sailor Magness, Orem vs. Sara Ortiz, Logan
Brielle Callahan, Pine View vs. Pia Lorbeer, Tooele
Naya Tillitt, Ridgeline vs. Taylor Tolbert, Salem Hills
Kendra Hancock, Payson vs. Betsy Hixson, Sky View
Victoria Fidler, Stansbury vs. Angela Crooks, Dixie
Caroline Jesse, Ogden vs. Mimi Bowman, Orem
Kristen Johnson, Ridgeline vs. Candice Gubler, Hurricane
Faith Hess, Desert Hills vs. Amberli Barben, Mountain Crest
Breanna Winkel, Spanish Fork vs. Lauren Sorge, Juan Diego
Ashley Kezos, Dixie vs. Marie Anderson, Green Canyon
Sydney DeGraw, Payson vs. Meghan Wold, Bonneville
Gabby Rockwood, Park City vs. Hannah Johnson, Salem Hills
Annie Spach, Logan vs. Hannah Obray, Pine View
Madison Poorman, Ogden vs. Hannah Jenkins, Logan
Mackinzie Telford, Desert Hills vs. Kylie Smith, Spanish Fork
Aspen Jones, Orem vs. Raelie Madrid, Dixie
Alli Phillips, Green Canyon vs. Nicole Amedee, Bonneville
Tavah DeHart, Salem Hills vs. Addie Bronson, Snow Canyon
Lucy Lyons, Ridgeline vs. Chanda Bigelow, Stansbury
Taylor Matz, Park City vs. Hannah Payne, Bear River
Cameron Miner, Pine View vs. Kailie Snow, Payson
Heather Roskelley/Cambrie Anderson, Logan vs. Dannika Hancock/Sage Staheli, Payson
Erica Evans/Abbie Carmack, Desert Hills vs. McKenna Baker/Kammy Hamilton, Tooele
Brooklyn Thompson/Emme Phillips, Park City vs. Annie Heaton/Ashley Stevens, Dixie
Eliza Bowman/Alyssa Chandler, Spanish Fork vs. Lindsey Larkin/Kelly Larkin, Bear River
Ryan Blaser/Charisse Snow, Pine View vs. BreeAnn Mason/Georgia Alley, Juan Diego
Emily Pehrson/Ali Wolford, Ridgeline vs. Kaitlyn Callahan/Kassidy Callahan, Uintah
Ali Greer/Abby Dunn, Orem vs. Grace Goble/Grace Mickelson, Green Canyon
Maddie Johansen/Hannah Anderson, Stansbury vs. Charlotte Apple/Addie Southam, Snow Canyon
Mia Thurber/Kenzi Knudsen, Stansbury vs. Erica Allen/Tessa Clayton, Spanish Fork
Madi Brenchley/Avery Chadwick, Ridgeline vs. Eme Benson/Kendra Parker, Snow Canyon
Tia Turley/Lyndsi Graf, Desert Hills vs. Macy Newman/Halie Davis, Bear River
Kaity Smith/Paige Paxton, Salem Hills vs. Ana Rico/Kylie Furukawa, Juan Diego
Tess Larkin/Kalli Beckstrom, Dixie vs. Madi Gray/Sicily May, Green Canyon
Isabel Adams/Gabby Bailey, Orem vs. Keanna Williams/Abi Winn, Ogden
Erin Case/Amelia Jorgensen, Park City vs. Cozette Caron/Thobeka Talbot, Payson
Juliette Hart/Kate Jenkins, Logan vs. Olivia Obray/Katrina Hafen, Pine View