PCHS girls tennis enters season with young squad but still eyes state title
It’s not very often that a team led by mostly underclassmen would have the goal of winning a state championship rather than building for the next season.
For Park City High School’s girls tennis team, this upcoming season won’t strictly be about the rebuild despite the Miners’ youth.
“That’s not the case with us,” head coach Heather Nicholas said. “We are a very seasoned team with most of our girls playing in tournaments, whether locally or nationally, throughout the offseason. With that, hopefully our age won’t matter because they’re still experienced.”
The seven-player varsity team is made up of one senior, one junior, two sophomores and three freshmen, a far cry from the veteran-laden team that finished last season as state runner-up in the Class 4A division.
“Last year we definitely had a good year, but came up just short in the end and that was difficult,” Nicholas said. “Last year came down to one match, the No. 3 singles that we lost in. … Good news is that same player is back for us again as Brooklyn (Thompson) is once again in the No. 3 singles spot, providing us with great experience to help us go far again.”
The three singles spots go to freshman Elle Martin at No. 1, freshman Olivia Tarmina at No. 2 and Thompson at No. 3. The No. 1 doubles team consists of sophomores Daniela Santos and Lauren Allen while the No. 2 doubles spot, although fluid, is currently held by freshman Martina White and junior Frances Laurent.
Making the journey back to the state championship even more difficult will be the fact that Park City has moved up to Class 5A. With the move up a class, theoretically tougher competition is expected, but it’s something Nicholas and the Miners are embracing.
“I don’t know what to expect with the move to 5A but I’m hoping that we’ll have more challenging matches,” Nicholas said. “Last year our region matches weren’t always challenging, so the biggest thing is playing a more competitive schedule that will help prepare us for the postseason.”
Martin and Tarmina, who spent this past summer playing in national tournaments as singles players, lead the team.
“That’s easy; they’re salty,” Nicholas said of her freshman stars. “They’re really not afraid of the competition because they’re both real seasoned despite their age. … High school tennis is just different because you’re playing for your team, not yourself. You got to get used to lots of cheering for and against you, and the girls will understand that and become comfortable with it.”
The squad is more than just Martin and Tarmina. Everyone else on the team has experience in local tournaments, and that’s part of the reason why Nicholas believes age won’t play much of a factor for this season.
“I’m really not that nervous,” Nicholas said. “They’ve played a lot of tournament tennis and are used to pressure situations. Now it’s a matter of preparing them for state for what that’ll be like with a couple hundred people watching.”
Despite wanting to win now, Nicholas also sees the potential this team has in the future. So part of her coaching this year is focused on building for the next few seasons where Park City can become a regular threat to win the state title.
“I’m all about keeping these girls positive, staying grounded throughout the season and the course of the year,” Nicholas said. “I understand we probably should look at this season like a rebuilding year but I think we have the talent to win now. … Still that doesn’t mean that we aren’t looking to the future and making sure the girls are in positions to not just win now, but win when they’re older.”
If their first match of the season was any indication of what Park City can expect through Region 8 play, it seems as if the Miners will adjust just fine to the rise in competition. Last Thursday, the Miners defeated region foe Payson 5-0, never dropping more than two games in a single set. Next on the schedule is a home match against Wastach on Thursday before traveling to face Provo High School on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
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