Park City High School girls tennis aiming for third straight championship
Twins Gabby and Livi Rockwood expected to lead the way
The Park Record
Park City High School girls tennis head coach Heather Nicholas was donning a white visor that read “State Champions” on it at the team’s season-opening match on Thursday.
The contest against Lone Peak at the PC MARC was more of an exhibition than anything, but Nicholas still had championship aspirations on her mind. Park City has won the last two UHSAA 3A state titles, and Nicholas hopes this season will bring a third straight crown to the program.
“We’ve done really well the last two years,” Nicholas said. “I expect them to give them a run for their money in the state championship. I told the girls we need red visors. We’ve got black and white [visors] and now we want the red ones with state champions on it, so that’s the goal.”
The Miners will once again be led by the Rockwood twins, Gabby and Livi, at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles spots. The pair has combined for two individual state championships heading into their junior years, with a couple runner-up finishes between them, as well.
The Rockwoods were out of town for Thursday’s matchup against Lone Peak, missing the opportunity to go against 6A competition, but Nicholas expects them both to return this season stronger than the last.
“My expectation for Gabby and Livi is basically to do what they did last year,” Nicholas said. “[They need to be] expecting to have to give 110 percent for every single match. They keep growing and maturing each year. They did from freshmen year to sophomore year, so I’m hoping to see even more from sophomore to junior year.”
While the top two singles positions are locked up, the rest of the lineup is in flux for the Miners.
At the No. 3 singles position, Taylor Matz, who held the spot last year, and Brooklyn Thompson have been battling it out, Nicholas said. The coaches are still deciding who will fill the role, but that process has been slowed by a shoulder injury Matz suffered through nearly two years ago.
“She’s still having issues with her shoulder, so she and Brooklyn are really fighting for that No. 3 singles spot,” Nicholas said.
Whoever earns that position will have a direct effect on who will be placed into the No. 1 doubles position, as both have experience playing there. Thompson was part of the No. 1 doubles squad last season that won a state title, and Matz got valuable experience on the doubles court on Thursday.
Either Thompson or Matz will be joined by Emme Phillips, who has become one of the team’s best net players, Nicholas said.
“Emme Phillips has really stepped it up,” Nicholas said. “She’s super strong at the net and I expect her to bring it.”
As for the final doubles slot, Nicholas said that as many as four athletes are vying for the two spots. The coaches hope to shore up the lineup as soon as possible.
Overall, the Miners are feeling optimistic heading into the season, especially thanks to some of the off-court work they’ve put in during the offseason with some of the team’s assistant coaches.
“We’re trying to get them bigger and stronger and faster,” Nicholas said. “You can have the most technically beautiful strokes, but if you can’t get your feet to the ball, those strokes do you no good. The other thing is if your head isn’t in the match, those strokes do you no good.
“You really have to have the whole package, so we’re really working on getting the girls a little more well rounded. Not just battling on the tennis court, but working on their minds and their bodies.”
Despite making the jump to 4A this season, Nicholas and company are fairly certain they have the roster and talent to accomplish their goal of winning a third consecutive state championship.
“We’re feeling pretty confident and ready to go,” Nicholas said. “It’s still the same, because a lot of the teams have moved with us. We’ve done really well the last two years and we just keep getting deeper and deeper.”
Park City’s next home match will take place on Aug. 24 at the PC MARC against Ogden, one of its new Region 11 opponents. The match is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
The Park City High School track team concluded its season on May 17 and 18 at the Class 4A state championship meet at Brigham Young University.