Park City doubles win duel for Region
All season long, Park City High School tennis coach Lori McMahon and assistant coach Tim Donnelly have been working with her doubles teams to help them communicate and play a more aggressive game.
Saturday, all of their hard work paid off.
Tied 2-2 with rival Judge Memorial in the Region 10 Championships at the Park City Racquet Club and heading into the final No.2 doubles match, McMahon put her faith in the duo of Kirsten Hardmann and Lindsay Price. It was a hard-fought three-match battle 7-5,7-6, 7-4, but the Miners prevailed.
"We beat them. We did it," McMahon said. "They played their hearts out and they really wanted it."
In singles competition, No. 1 player Ali McMahon claimed the victory over Judge’s Emily Kennedy 6-3, 6-2. Although Ali beat Kennedy in the regular season, it was still a difficult match
"Emily was playing good, so Ali had to come on a little bit," McMahon said.
In No.2 and No3. singles, Park City ran into Judge’s Mancini sisters, Megan and Mikelle, both tournament players with experience under their belts. At the No. 2 spot, the Miners’ Tessa Wray battled Mancini through three sets and a tiebreaker, but couldn’t finish with the win, losing 6-2,5-7, 7-6, 7-4. McMahon said the near miss showed Wray the extra things she will need to be successful at the state competition, which will be held this weekend.
"I think she knows what she’s got to do," McMahon said. "She needs to be confident and hit out on her strokes. She’ll be fine if she plays the best she can play."
Freshman Annika Karlsen, the No.3 singles player for Park City, lost in straight sets 6-1,6-3. McMahon says that the maturity that comes with years of playing both prep and tournament tennis may have hurt the young Karlsen, but says her potential will skyrocket in the next few years.
According to McMahon, playing high school tennis is a different experience from individual tournament play. Often the adjustment to the team pressure, large spectator crowds and the teamwork concept take awhile for underclassmen to learn.
"It’s different when you don’t want to let your team down," Mcmahon said.
With the Bulldogs up 2-1 in singles play, the region title was on the shoulders of the doubles teams.
No.1 doubles players Tori Sowul and Hilary Packham had previously lost to Judge’s Elissa Mulroy and Kylie West in regular season play, so the team knew they would have to play a strong game. McMahon said the girls came out with a determination she had not seen up until that point.
"I looked over there, and they were playing so good and so confident," McMahon said.
She said much of the nerves from earlier in the season were gone, allowing both play to flow more smoothly
"They reached a turning point in the season on the confidence factor to go for it and not worry about anything," McMahon commented.
She added that the large crowds that gathered for the finals on Saturday also seemed to make a big difference in how both doubles teams played.
"We had a huge crowd Saturday," McMahon said. "It was amazing."
With the region title in hand, the Miners now have just days to prepare for the state championship.
"It’s really nice to go into state and have that confidence booster," McMahon said.
At State, the Miners have a draw that puts them in the bracket against southern Utah powerhouse Pine View, with title contenders Ogden and Juan Diego in the other bracket. McMahon says that this year, no one team has the best players at every position, so the state crown could go to any of the stronger schools, including Judge.
"It’ up in the air, so it will be really exciting" McMahon said.
With such close competition, McMahon is telling the Miners to focus on each match separately, not worrying about winning the state title until the final round.
"It’s match by match focus," McMahon said. "There will be a lot of external factors. They are all good players with so much potential and talent."
The region event also featured a separate competition for junior varsity doubles, split into two different tournaments, based on ability.
"It gives them something to look forward to," McMahon said.
The 3A Utah State Tennis Championships will be held this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6-7 at Brigham Young University.
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