Girls dominate at Northern Divisionals
New name, new system and new results, but it didn’t change the outcome for the Park City girls’ tennis team at the Northern Divisionals this weekend in Ogden. Park City won 15 out of 16 matches to head to the 3A state tournament as the No. 1 seeded team in all but one position.
The Utah High School Activities Association overhauled their prep tennis playoff system to achieve more balance at state. So this year, instead of a Region 10 tournament with Park City and Judge vying for the top slots, the teams were combined with the schools of Region 11 to create the Northern Division. On the south side of the state, top teams like Juan Diego and Desert Hills came together in their respective regions to make a similar division in the south.
The top two teams in each region played a round-robin style tournament, while the rest of the two regions entered a traditional bracketed tournament.
The new system was created so that the top teams had a chance at better seeding heading into the state finals. It also means that the southern and northern teams will go in on opposite brackets, so the best players and schools likely won’t meet until the semifinals and finals. The downside is that weaker teams are all but excluded from state tournament contention, which Park City head coach Lori McMahon said is sad, but she is excited to see how the new more balanced system will work.
"It kind of hurts the little guys," she lamented. "The old way they were guaranteed to go to state."
But despite the changes it was the Miners finishing first, just as they have for years in the region championships. McMahon said that the Park City girls went into the tournament determined to win and get the No. 1 seeding going into state and didn’t waver all weekend.
"We were ready to go," she said.
The win was a dominant one for the Miners in many of the positions. Ali McMahon at the No. 1 singles position was a woman on a mission after losing to rival Mikelle Mancini in the regular season. She did away with Mancini in three sets and soundly beat players from Bear River and Ogden in straight sets to win the tournament and the no. 1 seed.
"Ali was not about to lose to Mikelle," McMahon said.
It was more of the same at the No. 2 singles slot where Tessa Wray beat her counterparts from Judge, Bear River and Grantsville each in a convincing fashion, soundly winning in straight sets every time.
On Friday night, No.3 singles player Stormy Dvorak gave the Miners a small scare when she played late into the evening in a match against the Judge contender, but ending up winning and then easily slipped by players from Logan and Grantsville.
At the No. 2 doubles position, Hilary Packham and Kristen Albrecht struggled in their first game against Judge’s pair, but quickly rebounded and won the next two sets for the victory, and easily defeated Morgan and Grantsville’s teams.
"They clamed down and their first game and played some good tennis," McMahon said.
The No.1 doubles position of Callie Wells and Allie Oriente were the only position that didn’t finish in first, losing to the Waterford No. 1 doubles team, which boasts one of the best doubles team in the state. Wells and Oriente knew it would be a challenge and played well, taking the Ravens to a three-game match before finally conceding. The duo will enter the state finals as the No. 2 seed, but McMahon is still confident that they will fare very well at the championships.
"They played really well with Waterford," McMahon said. "They were patient and they put the ball away at the net."
The girls have a little less than one week to prepare for the state finals at Brigham Young University (BYU) this weekend. They have one practice match scheduled against Viewmont and will spend the rest of the time mentally and physically preparing.
Their biggest challenges next week will be Juan Diego and Desert Hills in the Southern Division. McMahon predicts that the Miners will see Juan Diego, who are coming in with the No. 2 seed in the Southern Division, in the semifinals and meet up with Desert Hills in the finals — if Park City can make it that far. McMahon said that there has been a slow progression to helping the girls believe that they have the skill and talent to beat these to teams.
I think they’re ready," McMahon said. "Divisionals helped their confidence. Anybody is beatable on a given day. I know the girls are ready to give it their best effort."
The 3A Utah High School State Tennis Tournament will begin this Friday at 10:30 a.m. and continue Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. at the BYU tennis courts.
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