Miners tennis team will face stiff state competition
The Park City Miners girls tennis team is coming off of three straight state championships with its No. 1 and No. 2 singles players in twin sisters Livi and Gabby Rockwood returning. But while coach Heather Nicholas said the team is strong, it is by no means a shoo-in for another title.
“There is no assuming this year,” she said. “They are going to have to bring it, because Desert Hills and Ridgeline are rock solid.”
The Miners started the season by playing both of the Class 4A contenders in a new tournament at Lone Peak and losing.
Nicholas said the teams had a strong contingent of recruits, as well as returning starters.
The Miners are not without experienced players of their own.
After the Rockwoods, the third singles position, held by recent graduate Taylor Matz last season, has been taken over by junior Brooklyn Thompson. Thompson has moved up through the team’s ranks after playing with Emme Phillips, now a senior, in the first doubles position last year.
Phillips is also coming into her own, taking a spot as the team’s captain and retaining her position as half of the Miners’ first doubles team alongside junior Mia Rappella.
The No. 2 doubles team comprises freshmen Daniela Santos and Lauren Allen, and junior Erin Case and sophomore Frances Laurent make up the No. 3.
Fewer coaches, smaller teams
This was the first season Nicholas has held tryouts for the team. She said she had the onerous task of telling 12 of the 21 tryouts that they would not be playing with the team this season, citing court constraints at the MARC and the departure of her son and assistant coach Hunter Nicholas, who left for a volunteer coaching position at Oklahoma State before the start of the season, as the reasons for the downsize.
“That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” she said. “It broke my heart.”
Nicholas said the process’ silver lining was that it put pressure on her players to compete for their positions.
“So in some respects it may be good, but I still don’t like it,” she said.
Two volunteer coaches have joined the team to help Nicholas.
The season so far
Other than losses to Desert Hills and Lone Peak, the Miners have had a successful season. The team beat Olympus for the first time ever, 4-2, then defeated Wasatch 5-1 in nonconference games.
The Miners have won all of their conference matches so far, including 6-0 wins over Ben Lomond, Ogden and Juan Diego. The Miners also beat Bonneville 5-1 on Tuesday.
The team is already preparing for its last home match of the season, which will be against Stansbury on Tuesday at 3 p.m., but the real test will be how the Miners perform when they travel to the St. George tournament from Sept. 6-8, where the team will likely face Desert Hills again.
Nicholas hopes the tournament will galvanize the Miners’ sometimes-shaky doubles performances, and prepares the Miners for a state competition that she said is looming large in the locker room this year.
“It’s definitely in the back of their mind, if not the front of their minds,” she said.
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.