Park City High School’s girls tennis says goodbye to 2017 seniors
Three seniors remembered for their passion and dedication to the sport
Red and black balloons bobbed in the wind from their ball cart anchor at the PC MARC tennis courts on Monday. On the most prominent courts, where the No. 1 and No. 2 singles would play, Taylor Metz, the No. 3 singles player and Erin Case and Amelia Jorgensen, the No. 2 doubles team, played against their Tooele counterparts. Alex Crudu and her JV doubles partner, Elle Hopkins, later played on the second court.
It was senior day for the Miners’ tennis team, so the seniors, Matz, Crudu, and Jorgensen, got the choice courts.
Last season, the Park City High School girls’ tennis team lost 10 seniors – a big hit, not that their performance level dropped. This year, the class is smaller, just three athletes, but Coach Heather Nicholas said, despite their numbers, they were an important part of “one big happy tennis family.”
“I have to start with Taylor Matz,” Nicholas said. “She’s going to be a tough one to say bye to because I’ve been coaching her since she was 12 years old.”
Matz had just earned a golden set against her Tooele opponent – meaning she played a set without dropping a point. She wasn’t positive, but Matz said it was probably her first golden set.
Since her sophomore year, Matz has occupied the No. 3 singles position, and has played some of the toughest players in the state. But she said the thing she will remember most about playing with PCHS is the atmosphere of the team. That’s also what she hopes to pass on to her teammates.
“I just hope that everyone enjoys it and doesn’t make it so competitive,” Matz said. “Make sure everyone has a good team bond and has fun.”
Nicholas said, when she thinks of Matz, it’s her passion that stands out the most.
“One of the things I love about her is she is super feisty on the court,” Nicholas said. “Some of the girls you wonder ‘are you really trying out there?’ You always know that (Matz is) giving it 100 percent and sometimes she gets a little upset, but you know she’s giving it all she’s got. … It’s one of those things you can’t teach. You’ve either got it or you don’t. I’m going to miss her terribly.”
While Matz kept a solid lock on her No. 3 singles spot, her teammate’s story was all about climbing.
When Amelia Jorgensen first started, she was one of the lower ranked players on the team.
“When she came out she was very much a JV level player,” Nicholas said. Since then she has been honing her skills, practicing year-round in hopes of securing a position on the varsity team.
“I just kind of got into it and each year, especially in ninth grade, I really wanted to play more,” Jorgensen said, who was inspired by her father, a high school and college tennis player, to pick up the sport. “I just got really competitive all of a sudden, wanting to be better each year. Beginning of freshman year I was way down on JV, I was one of the last girls. Now I’m on varsity, which is pretty cool.”
She said the most surprising and challenging part was the number of hours it took to make the necessary improvements to her game.
“It wasn’t just in the summer,” she said. “I was playing all winter long, coming here four to five days a week and, during the summers, every day. … It was very intimidating, (competing with) all these big girls that are really good compared to me.”
At the season’s outset she fended off teammates in challenge matches, defending her position and earning an undisputed position on the varsity team.
Jorgensen’s effort left an impression on her coach.
“It’s just really cool to see how passionate she was to finally make varsity,” Nicholas said.
Crudu is also passionate about her spot on the team. After joining last year when she moved from her home in Moldova (between Romania and Ukraine) to Park City, Crudu embraced tennis, a game she had never played competitively.
Nicholas said Crudu started the year with limited experience of the game, but has always brought a positive attitude, a statement Crudu wholeheartedly agreed with.
“I cheer everyone; it’s part of the day,” Crudu said. “I’m happy when someone is cheering for me, and then I give cheers to another.”
Nicholas said Crudu “Always, always, always has a smile on her face.”
Crudu now says tennis is integral to her life.
“I was scared and then I was so happy to be part of this because we have the best coaches and the team is amazing,” she said, adding that the team has enriched her social life. “I love this tennis team. They are all my friends and I love them. I enjoy it so much because we meet every week; it’s part of my life.”
After their matches against Tooele – Jorgenson and her teammate, Erin Case, won 6-0, 6-1, Matz won 6-0, 6-0, and Crudu and Hopkins won 6-1 — Nicholas gave her senior athletes bracelets she made to commemorate their time with Park City High School, and started saying goodbye to three members of her big, happy family.
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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.