Miners girls’ tennis takes title for fourth year in five
Unexpected doubles play helps secure win
October 5, 2017
It takes a village to raise an athlete. At least, that's what Park City High School's head tennis coach Heather Nicholas said after the girls' team earned its fourth state championship in five years.
She had set up practice matches before the tournament between some members of the high school's state-bound team and the toughest players at the PC MARC, where the team practices and Nicholas works as a pro.
Every member of the team made it through Friday's tournament and into the semi-finals.
"It went great," Nicholas said. "We had a successful weekend."
The tournament had played out with an unpredictable twist. Desert Hills, which was a contender, had stacked its doubles teams with its top singles players in hopes of winning matches in positions that traditionally have weaker competition, but so had Logan, which then had no singles contenders (they picked up one point in singles).
"It was kind of funny because it really bit them in the butt," Nicholas said about Desert Hills. "Logan took out Desert Hills in the second round, which was the team we were concerned about. We knew they were coming in that way."
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Logan then beat Park City's first doubles team, Brooklyn Thompson and Emme Phillips, in the semifinals but drew enough points from Desert Hills for Park City to emerge as the frontrunner.
Erin Case and Amelia Jorgensen, Park City's second doubles team, were defeated by Orem's Isabel Adams and Gabby Bailey, also in the semifinals.
Nicholas said Case and Jorgensen played well in their first state finals.
In singles, the Miners were characteristically strong. Juniors Gabby and Livi Rockwood both made it to the finals, as did senior Taylor Matz.
In first singles finals, Livi Rockwood faced Naya Tillitt of Ridgeline, who she had lost to in a tournament this season. Tillitt took the lead, then Livi broke in the second set, but Tillitt broke back.
"(Livi) just couldn't quite close it out to split with her," Nicholas said. "Naya just played really well. It wasn't that Livi played poorly; Naya just outplayed her."
Tillitt won 6-2, 6-3.
Gabby Rockwood, in second singles, defeated Faith Hess of Desert Hills 6-2, 6-2, securing her third first-place state finish in that position.
"She did everything she was supposed to — really just played her game," Nicholas said. "In past years the girls have gotten really nervous. Yes, they were nervous (this year), but it didn't get to them."
Matz was the last Miner to finish the tournament. All of the matches had been moved indoors due to rain, with all the Class 4A teams playing under temporary cover at the outdoor courts.
Matz alone was scheduled to play on the indoor courts, much to the surprise of Nicholas and her son, Hunter, the assistant coach.
"She started without us even knowing," Heather Nicholas said. "She had already started her match. Before we even got ahold of her, she was at 2-all in her first set."
Matz faced Aspen Jones of Orem, who she had split matches with over the season.
The Park City senior won the first set in a tie breaker, then won the second set 6-3.
Nicholas said, with it being Matz's final performance for Park City High School, she ended her Miners career with a bang.
The Miners won with 20 points, followed by Desert Hills and Orem with 15 each. Logan finished fifth with eight points.
Afterward, the Nicholas's took the team to Hires Big-H for root beer floats and steaks; just as they did last year.
"The victory is equally sweet each year," Heather Nicholas said. "Even though we have two seniors moving on, we have a lot of upcoming freshmen coming in next year. It will be tough losing the (Rockwood) twins year after next, but we're kind of grooming them here at the Marc, and they just keep rolling in one after another."
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