I think tennis is really about having a good time and meeting friends, so I think tennis is one of those sports where you end up finding life-long friends and you can play as an adult, socially. —Jenny Watts
SALT LAKE CITY — First-year Olympus head coach Jenny Watts acknowledges that there is a target on the back of the defending champion Titans, who have won the state title for the last three years.
“Yes, everybody probably wants to beat us since we’ve taken state the last couple years,” Watts said.
But even with that added pressure to the already pressure-packed state tournament, there is one message Watts is delivering to her team ahead of the 5A girls state tennis tournament is this: Relax and have fun.
“I think tennis is really about having a good time and meeting friends, so I think tennis is one of those sports where you end up finding life-long friends and you can play as an adult, socially,” Watts said. “I really want my girls to have a fun time and enjoy the experience and not worry too much about the stressful part of it.”
Part of what gives Olympus an advantage to dealing with the pressure at state is their experience. Three players from the Titans’ state championship team a year ago are back. Emma Jewell, who won the second singles title as a sophomore in 2016 returns, along with Elly Lloyd, who won the first third singles in 2016, and Katelyn Longson, who was part of the duo that won the first doubles championship last year.
“They have more experience than I have in this regard,” Watts said of her team. “They’re probably going to be helping me not be stressed out. Most of my team has played in the state tournament, I have two freshmen playing doubles, so it might be a little more stressful for them, but the rest of them have all taken state before, so it should be fun,” Watts said.
Watts said that playing in region helped prepare the Titans for the state tournament.
“I think it’s great to play on the courts that you’ll be playing state on and to play at a higher competitive level. I think that’s definitely important, but again, I think my girls had a really fun time at region also,” Watts said.
Watts said that USTA play has also prepared her team for state play.
“Everyone playing in the state tournament play USTA tournaments, so they’ve all had a lot of practice in tournament situations, so I think the main difference for the girls in this situation is that it is a team situation, so there might be a little more pressure to win because they’re representing a team, not just themselves,” Watts said.
One team that has a real shot at beating Olympus in the state tournament is Timpview, which returns five players from a season ago where it finished tied for second in the 4A state tournament, including Rachel Brown and Megan Austin, who will play first and second singles, respectively.