Local high school athletes lead Waterford to title
In terms of 3A high school girls’ tennis, Park City High School is the cream of the crop. The Miners used an impressive trio of singles players to breeze through this season to an undefeated Region 10 record and are the defending state champions.
But there’s a small group of Park City residents who recently led another Utah school to a tennis championship. These high schoolers make the trip up and down Parley’s Canyon each day to Sandy to attend the Waterford School, where they play on the girls’ tennis team.
“It’s a new phenomenon for us,” said Head Coach Ken Wade. “We don’t have a ton of students from Park City at Waterford. … Our varsity team has seven players, and four of them are commuting down from Park City. Nothing like that has ever happened before.”
Those four players are Paige Smaligo, Alex Gunton, Brytan Todd and Paige Anderson, while Sammy Campbell, also a Park City resident, plays on the junior varsity squad. In total, the team boasts five Park City athletes who make the 30-plus-mile trip back and forth every day for school.
It’s a good thing this group makes the trip, too, as Wade and the Ravens would have never been able to claim the UHSAA 2A state title last weekend without the Park City residents. In fact, Anderson, who finished only third in region play, was the lone individual state champion for Waterford, with her match in the second singles slot being the clinching points to secure the trophy.
Among the other locals, Paige Smaligo finished in second place on the No. 3 singles court, while the pair of Gunton and Todd finished in fifth in the No. 1 doubles bracket. While there were other members of the team who helped the Ravens beat rival Rowland Hall by just two points, it’s clear the Parkites did their part.
Waterford, a private school, holds high academic standards. According to Wade, the school requires a lot of its students, which would make being an athlete tough as well. Being an athlete who lives a half hour, or more, away from the school makes it that much harder.
“When they are athletes as well, it puts a lot of pressure on the available time they have to complete the work they have to do,” Wade said. “Sometimes the girls are getting back from an away tennis match at 7 o’clock at night, and then still have to drive back to Park City and still have three hours of homework to do. It is a big commitment.”
In order to combat what could be a tedious drive every day, the girls, and their parents, have set up a carpool system for practices. The goal is to eliminate having multiple cars from this area going up and down the canyon each day, unless it’s the day of a match.
“(The team) gave us a list of different parents to contact. We were able to connect and get some carpools going right away,” said Linda Smaligo, whose daughter Paige is on the team. “For the matches, I’d say it was kind of funny because the Park City parents were there at most of the matches to watch. … I could probably rely on other parents to get her back and forth and stuff, but for me, it wasn’t that difficult to make the time.”
Smaligo said the drive wasn’t all that bad, either.
“It actually worked out much easier than I thought,” she said. “The ride down there, you’re going against traffic, so it’s surprisingly fast to get there.”
With the season over, the locals are “playing catch up” in regards to their schoolwork, said Wade. But with all of them being underclassmen, the Waterford School girls’ tennis team, or the Park City commuter team, should be strong for the next few years.
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