SALT LAKE CITY – After finishing in second place last year, Park City came back with a vengeance to claim the team tennis title at Liberty Park on a picture perfect Saturday afternoon. Desert Hills took third overall and Pine View tied for fourth with Logan.
The Miners were represented with a player in each of the finals — winning first and third singles, and taking second in first and second doubles, as well as second singles.
After dominating the first day, Park City and Grantsville continued to pour it on with Desert Hills as the only other high school to be represented in the finals.
Desert Hills’ Madz Eames, a senior, made it to the championship match in first singles against Livi Rockwood of Park City. The duo met once before early in the year with Rockwood making quick work of Eames.
“She kicked my butt at a tournament earlier in the year and it was the shortest match that I’ve ever played,” Eames recalled. “It was really embarrassing for me and really motivated me to get better in all aspects of my game.”
Despite a shoulder injury during the year, Eames played through the pain and managed to improve her game leading up to state.
In the first set, Eames did everything right as she used a variety of shots to keep Rockwood off balance. Eames had a pair of aces, lobs as well as some great shots down the line that were unreturnable.
While her hard work didn’t bring home the singles title — finishing in second for the second consecutive year — Eames pushed Rockwood to the very end before falling 6-4, 1-6, 0-6. It was the first time this year that anybody has taken Rockwood to all three sets. The freshman came into the tournament undefeated and as the favorite, before needing a comeback to keep her perfect record intact.
“I told Madz that I was proud of her and grateful for everything that she’s done for the program,” Desert Hills tennis coach Dow Christenson said. “The final score doesn’t really indicate how close it really was. I’m proud of her and were all going to miss her next year.”
Eames said she is grateful for her coaches.
“It really has been a great season and I was able to accomplish everything I wanted this year, except for the state title,” she said. “But I really can’t complain. It’s been a fun four years.”
Pine View’s Hattie Erekson had the tough task of going up against Rockwood during the first game of the day in the semifinals. Erekson had a number of opportunities to push it to three sets, but came up short in a 6-2, 6-1 loss.
In second singles, Snow Canyon’s Brielle Nielsen breezed past the first two rounds with very dominating victories. Unfortunately, that’s as far as Nielsen would go after Grantsville’s Bailie Sandberg took care of business in 6-1, 6-0 win. Sandberg went on to win second singles title in straight sets.
Pine View’s Lily Hemenway also lost in the semis 6-4, 6-0 against Park City’s Gabby Rockwood — who just so happens to be Livi’s sister.
With nobody making it to the second day from Region 9 in third singles or first doubles, all of the attention went to the doubles teams from Hurricane and Desert Hills.
After knocking off the No. 1 seed from Region 12, Hurricane’s Holland Steglich and Candice Gubler looked to pull off another upset Saturday morning against Grantsville’s Becca Toone and Marissa Linares.
To say that both team’s went back and forth would be an understatement as Steglich and Gubler matched Linares and Toone shot-for-shot, before losing a heartbreaker 7-6, 7-6.
As for the No. 1 seed from Region 9, Desert Hills’ Abbie Carmack and Lyndsi Graf had little trouble advancing to the semifinals, before coming up short 6-4, 6-1 against the No. 2 seed from Region 10 in Park City’s Caileigh Lydon and Marisa Zanetti.
“Although were disappointed we didn’t get to go to the finals, we had a lot of fun this year,” Carmack said.
“This was my first time at state and I loved it,” Graf added. “We had fun cheering our team on as well as getting to know some of the other players from different schools.”
This won’t be the last time both doubles teams will likely be at state. Carmack, Steglich and Gubler are all sophomores, while Graf is just a freshman.
“We’re already looking forward to next year,” Carmack said. “We’re only going to get better so that we take that next step next year.”
Follow Justin Giles on Twitter @Justingiles22.
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