"Doubles teams are such a rollercoaster ride of emotions," said Donnelly, head coach of the Park City High School girls' tennis team. "As a singles player, you really only have your opponent to focus on. But not only do you have your opponents to focus on in doubles, you also have your partner."
During the 3A state tennis tournament at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City on Friday and Saturday, the rollercoaster ride for Tychsen and Frost ended in a state title. Playing in the No. 2 doubles spot, the Park City duo defeated Julie Steinmann and Heather Evans of Wasatch 6-3, 6-7 (7-2), 6-4, to accomplish something that didn't seem all that likely when the season started in August.
"Pretty much from the region tournament, they both just helped each other out," Donnelly said. "They both sort of rode that wave with each other. They played smarter and recognized the abilities of one another. They came together later on and I think that probably helped them in a way because they didn't have a lot of history together."
Their state crown helped the Park City squad earn enough points to finish second in the 3A state tournament with 11 total team points. Defending state champion Judge Memorial cruised to its second straight 3A championship, finishing with 17 points.
Tychsen and Frost, who were the No. 3 seed out of Region 10, dominated the No. 2 doubles bracket, defeating teams from Ogden, Spanish Fork and Juan Diego before toppling the Wasatch team to win the title. Donnelly said the tandem's 6-1, 6-1, win over Juan Diego's Caitlin Keenan and Maia Sepulveda was the most impressive win of the tournament after the Miner pair had struggled against the Soaring Eagle team during the regular season.
"They really had an unbelievably great tournament," he said. "It was the best I've ever seen them play. They came out hot from the get go and won very easily."
Park City's No. 1 singles player, Solveig Karlsen, the No. 2 seed out of Region 10, ran away with her first-round match, defeating Hannah Frazier of Stansbury, 6-1, 6-1. But in the quarterfinals, Karlsen drew the toughest draw of the tournament, defending champion Lacey Hancock of Pine View. Hancock defeated Karlsen 6-0, 6-0, and went on to defend her No. 1 singles crown.
No. 2 singles player, Dani Lecher, also breezed through her first-round match, defeating Rachel Windley of Ben Lomond 6-2, 6-0. But much like Karlsen's, Lecher's quarterfinal draw was a tough one. Snow Canyon's Bergen Nelson, who eventually finished second in the No. 2 singles bracket, defeated Lecher 7-6 (7-5), 7-5.
"Her opponent was a very seasoned tournament player and was very calm and just kept on plugging away and getting the ball back," Donnelly said. "Unfortunately Dani made too many errors and couldn't recover."
Park City's No. 3 singles player, Caroline Davis, had a marathon first-round matchup against Abby Nordgren of Stansbury, finally defeating the Stallion player 6-7 (9-7), 7-5, 6-0. But much of Davis' energy was spent in that first-round showdown, according to Donnelly. In the quarterfinal matchup against Ali Damon of Spanish Fork Davis fell 6-0, 6-2.
The team's No. 1 doubles duo of Katie Hardman and Lauren Weed advanced to the semifinals. They defeated Allie Hyde and Sabrina Wood of Ogden 6-7 (7-3), 6-2, 6-3 in the first round. In the quarterfinals, the Miner duo topped Lindsey Olsen and Kristan Stewart of Cedar 1-6, 6-1, 6-3. But against eventual second-place finishers Marissa Christensen and Paige Beckstrom of Spanish Fork, Hardman and Weed were ousted 6-0, 2-6, 6-2.
"Quite a rollercoaster," Donnelly said. "They were quite aggressive at the net."
Asked what the Miners must do in 2013 to dethrone the Bulldogs, Donnelly said he needs to work on a way to get his players in as much competitive tennis both in season and during the off-season.
"Tennis is pretty unique, so we have to get them in the mindset of how to play a tournament over a couple of days and understand how to finish opponents and when to peak and when not to peak," he said. "You only really get that by playing matches."
As for the highlight of his first year as head coach of the program, Donnelly said it was the late blooming of the Miner tandem that won a state championship.
"For them to not go completely crazy in the process and to win a state title was fantastic," he said.