Several local high school tennis players will have a shot at winning a state title.
That’s because multiple Cache Valley athletes fared well on Day 1 of the 4A Girls Tennis Championships on Friday at Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park. Ridgeline, Logan and Green Canyon are currently in the top five, while Sky View is tied for eighth place in the team competition. All four local programs had at least one player punch their ticket to the semifinals of their respective position.
Region 9 rivals Desert Hills and Dixie are in the driver’s seat for team glory as both teams won all 10 of their matches Friday, giving them the maximum 10 points. The Riverhawks and Grizzlies are tied for third with six points, only one ahead of the Wolves. The Bobcats have scored a trio of points.
Ridgeline’s Naya Tillitt is off to an outstanding start in her quest for an extremely rare fourth straight state title at No. 1 singles. The senior didn’t drop a single game in either of her Friday matches.
Tillitt will be joined in the semifinals by teammate Madi Brenchley, who quickly dispatched of both of her opponents on Day 1 of the tournament at No. 2 singles. Brenchley, who only lost two games Friday, has now advanced to the round of four three consecutive years — at second doubles as a freshman and third singles as a sophomore.
“These girls have done so well this season,” RHS head coach Juliann Daines Ellis said. “They’ve put a lot of time and energy into their training, and it’s paying off here at state. So far, both of them have done very well in their matches and, regardless of how they do tomorrow, I am so proud of their hard work, focus and dedication to this sport.”
Likewise, Logan will be represented in the semifinal round by a pair of singles players. Yeeke Wang, a two-time region runner-up to Tillitt, wasn’t tested in the first round, and then earned a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Ogden’s Caroline Jesson, the Region 10 champ, in the second round.
It was a great day for fellow Grizzly Jisung Lee, who claimed her spot in the semis at third singles as a No. 4 seed. Lee needed three sets to prevail in the opening round, and then outpointed Region 10 titleist Izzy Barrera, 7-5, 6-2, in the quarterfinals. Barrera, who plays for Ogden, needed three sets to defeat Mountain Crest’s April Francis in the first round.
“It was a wonderful showing for Logan High,” LHS head coach Carolee Hammel said. “Our players were fantastic sports, tough competitors and very classy. Our two singles players who made it into the semis were mentally tough and didn’t let anything rattle them. Jisung battled a twisted ankle and was still able to win the important points. Yeeke was down in the first set and didn’t lose believe in herself.”
Phoenix Davis will be representing Green Canyon on Day 2 of the tourney. The third singles player never lost more than three games in a set in either of her Friday matches.
It was a memorable day in general for the Wolves, who won first-round matches at four of the five positions and received the academic excellence award. As a team, Green Canyon has an impressive cumulative GPA of 3.930.
In addition to Davis, fellow singles player Alli Phillips (No. 1) reigned supreme in the first round for the Wolves, as did both doubles tandems — Grace Goble/Olivia Phillips (No. 1), and Reagan Baxter/Gracie Beecher (No. 2). Beecher and Baxter took their second-round foes to three sets, while Phillips was very competitive against Desert Hills standout Morgan Behyer — a 4A semifinalist at first singles in 2017 and 2018.
“We really worked hard and felt like our focused practices helped them to build to the end of the season,” GC head coach John Mickelson said. “It was so great to see so many individual successes both in the regular season and especially in the postseason. This is a very special team of girls from the top of the varsity to the practice squad. As a team, we are especially proud of Phoenix.”
The Bobcats were led by their second doubles duo of Emily Coombs and Saydee Godfrey, who gutted out a pair of three-setters. To their credit, Godfrey and Coombs won pretty convincingly in both third sets.
“Our second doubles team got off to a slow start the first match against Ben Lomond, but played great tennis against a Cedar City team that had great serves and net play,” SV head coach Anna Lyne said. “We are really proud of their awesome mindset heading into the third set, playing tough and pulling off the win.”
In addition to the aforementioned players, other local athletes who emerged victorious in the first round were Logan’s Nicole Lambert (No. 2 singles), Ridgeline’s Meera Gardner (No. 3 singles) and Sky View’s Rachel Lattin (No. 3 singles). Ridgeline’s Lucy Lyons and Myriam Anderson secured their spot in the second round at No. 1 doubles, as did Logan’s Jennie Leo and Amie Liu at No. 2 doubles.
The tourney will conclude Saturday with the final two rounds.