Miners win Region 10, shift focus on repeating at state
Heading into the Region 10 tournament last Thursday, the Park City High School girls’ tennis team was facing high expectations. After finishing the regular season with an undefeated record in region play, surrendering just three points to regional opponents combined, there was virtually no doubt who was going to take home the title.
Entering the tournament with 45 points already thanks to their stellar regular-season play, the Miners took first place in all three singles brackets, as well as the No. 1 and 3 doubles brackets, in order to win the region. They finished with 74 points, while Grantsville (60) and Stansbury (37) rounded out the top three.
“[The tournament] turned out well. The girls were right on spot,” said Head Coach Heather Nicholas of her team’s performance. “We just played really good, clean tennis.”
Leading the way, as they have all season, were Livi and Gabby Rockwood, along with Taylor Matz, to complete the clean sweep of the three singles points. This has become routine for the trio, and the wins on Thursday came as no surprise to Nicholas, or anyone else who has paid attention to Region 10 tennis this season.
“In singles, we had a total of five games lost. It was just kind of business as usual,” Nicholas said.
Three of those games were given up by Livi Rockwood in the No. 1 spot, though that result was never in question, beating Baile Sandberg of Grantsville 6-0, 6-3 in the final. Twin sister Gabby won her final in the No. 2 spot 6-0, 6-0 while Matz finished things off with a 6-1, 6-1 victory on the third court.
In doubles play, the No. 1 duo of Brooklyn Thompson and Julianna Signor looked to get back on top after falling in their final regular season matchup with Grantsville’s Kayla Johnson and Carli Christensen last week. Ironically, it was that same duo that Thompson and Signor found themselves facing in the final of the No. 1 doubles court at the region tournament.
The Miners pair corrected some issues they had from that final match, and appeared to be in postseason form by beating the Grantsville team by a score of 6-1, 6-4.
“They just came out playing to their ability,” Nicholas said of Thompson and Signor. “[They] really dialed down the unforced errors. They were patient and waited for good opportunities and were really able to execute when the opportunities were there.”
Caleigh Lydon and Marissa Zanetti earned second place on the No. 2 court in doubles play, while the duo of Emme Phillips and Amelia Jorgensen finished things off by winning the third and final doubles point.
Next up for the Miners is a trip to the state championship, where they will enter as defending 3A champions. They enter as the favorites to repeat, led by the trio of singles players, who Nicholas believes will sweep their way to the top of their respective brackets.
Last year, the Rockwood twins were mere freshmen competing in their first state championships, while Matz was just a sophomore. This led to some early mental mistakes that the Miners eventually worked through on their way to a state title, but were still present, nonetheless.
A year older and wiser, Nicholas expects all the singles players to show up with the season is on the line.
“They’ve matured so much,” Nicholas said. “Last year, the stress of state really was a challenge for them. They weren’t used to having 30-40 people watching you play. It was a little intimidating. … I think now that they know what to expect, they’ll come in ready to go. They’ll have a couple of closer matches, but I fully expect all three of our singles to come out on top.”
As for the doubles, Lydon and Zanetti have a “bridge to burn,” according to their coach, but with a few days to focus solely on the varsity team, Nicholas and company are feeling confident heading in.
“We’ll be able to dedicate all our time to [the varsity players] this week and get them ready. I’m feeling good about our chances,” Nicholas said.
The state tournament will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 6, and continue the following day, at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.
Steele DeWald has his life in Park City down to a routine. After some strange encounters in his 20s, he’s OK with the mundane.