PCHS girls’ tennis wins 3A title
October 13, 2015
The Park City High School girls’ tennis team has been battling Grantsville all season long. In two regular-season region matches, the teams tied 3-3 each time, with Park City’s singles players winning all three matches and Grantsville’s three doubles teams going 3-0. Then, in the Region 10 championship meet, the Miners bested their foe, recording a 4-2 victory thanks to the No. 1 doubles team of Marina Mayo and Julianna Signor.
On Friday and Saturday, the teams squared off again, this time with a 3A state championship on the line. In every bracket other than No. 1 singles, Park City and Grantsville players met in the finals. Though Grantsville won three of those matches, Park City captured the No. 1 singles and No. 3 singles titles to narrowly win the state title.
"We won by three points," Park City Coach Tamarin Espinoza said. "Grantsville was on our heels the whole time. It came down to us and Grantsville, which was nice to see. Everyone always thinks that the strong teams come out of Region 9, which is the one down south. This was Region 10-dominant."
Park City’s No. 1 singles player Livi Rockwood, a freshman, took down Desert Hills’s Madz Eames in the final, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0. Rockwood blamed nerves for her slow start.
"She was playing really good and I was making a lot of mistakes," Rockwood said. "I was just thinking I needed to be confident in my strokes and then, whatever happened, I could come off the court saying I tried. [After the first set], my coach said it’s a new set, a new beginning. I could start over, basically, and not think about what happened in the past. I just went for it and didn’t even really think about what was going on."
"Livi played beautifully, even in the first set," Espinoza said. "I think the freshman jitters and having that many people cheering against her got to her a little bit early."
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No. 3 singles player Taylor Matz, a sophomore, also won an individual title, defeating Grantsville’s Morgan Matthews 6-2, 6-2 in the finals. Matz, who has been battling a shoulder injury for most of the season, was relieved her shoulder held up through two days of tennis.
"It felt really good to win, especially since I was nervous about my shoulder," she said. "I didn’t want a lot of pressure on it. But then I got out there and it felt good."
Espinoza said it was great to see how focused Matz was on winning the title.
"Taylor was in a happy place," she said. "She was calm and she went out there and I think she knew she was going to win it and nothing was going to stop her."
Matz played in the state tournament last year, losing in the semifinals. On this year’s team full of freshmen and first-year starters, Espinoza said that experience definitely helped.
"Grantsville fans are a little rowdy," she said. "She was prepared because she already knew what to expect from the crowd. She definitely stepped up as a leader and got in there and got it done."
No. 2 singles player Gabby Rockwood fell in a hotly-contested final to Grantsville’s Bailie Sandberg 7-5, 7-6. The No. 1 doubles team of Mayo and Signor fell to Grantsville 6-2, 7-6, and the No. 2 doubles team of Caileigh Lydon and Marisa Zanetti lost to Grantsville as well.
The important thing, Espinoza said, was that everyone advanced to the second day of the tournament.
"What I like about this victory is that no one spot, no one person, won it," she said. "This was a team effort. The fact that everyone made it to day two, which was our goal, was huge. The fact that everyone made it into the finals, that’s what won us state. Also, it was a confidence booster for the girls to be able to look to the next court and see their teammates."
After an up-and-down season, Espinoza said she was pleased with the effort the doubles teams showed at state.
"I’m proud of everyone, but especially our doubles," she said. "They surpassed even my greatest expectations for them. I knew they could get far, but they even did better than I thought. They worked so hard."
Espinoza noted that the Miners benefited from squaring off against community members in practice matches leading up to the state tournament. League players and recreational players played against the varsity squad at the PC MARC, which she said was an enormous plus.
With a title under their belts, the young Miners are eager to show they’re not going to give up the championship easily. Park City will return everyone but Mayo from this year’s team and will add a couple strong freshmen.
"I think we’re going to take it again," Matz said. "We’ll have another strong team, just like this year."
"It’s going to be nice coming back as the defending state champions," Espinoza added.
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