Three goals down, no more to go for the Green Canyon girls tennis program.
The Wolves went undefeated in region duals for the second straight year, defended their Region 11 Tournament title and now have achieved their primary objective. Green Canyon didn’t lose a single match on Day 1 of the 4A State Championships and, as a result, no other program can catch the Wolves.
Green Canyon went 10-0 Friday at Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park and advanced all five of its positions to the championship round. The Wolves racked up 15 points, which is seven more than defending champion Crimson Cliffs and eight more than 2020 runner-up Desert Hills. Both of those teams only advanced two of their positions to Saturday’s finals, meaning they can’t score more than four points each.
Indeed, it’s been that kind of season for Green Canyon, which will be Cache Valley’s first state champion in the sport since Ridgeline in 2018. The Wolves fared better than Crimson Cliffs and Desert Hills at the St. George Invitational last month, and their only dual loss during the 2021 campaign was to reigning 6A state champion Skyridge.
“We are just in awe of how incredible our girls played today,” GC head coach Holly Haslem said. “Today’s matches were not easy. The competitors from both regions fought so hard. Our girls really had to play their best. Tomorrow’s going to be exciting.”
Green Canyon will be represented in the finals by all three of its singles players in Bailey Huebner (No. 1), Halle Kendrick (No. 2) and Emmi Murri (No. 3), plus both of its doubles tandems in Alice Wilkinson/Olivia Phillips (No. 1) and Maren McKenna/Ava Checketts (No. 2). McKenna will have an opportunity to defend her 4A championship at second doubles on Saturday.
It will be an all-Region 11 showdown at first singles as Huebner will square off against friendly rival Erika Olsen of Bear River for the third time this season. Huebner, a freshman, outlasted Olsen, a senior, in three sets the first two times they took the court.
“We’re so happy that the first singles finalists are both from Region 11,” Haslem said.
Huebner only lost two games in each of her Friday matches. The freshman dispatched of Desert Hills’ Malika Maxwell, 6-0, 6-2, in the quarterfinals. Maxwell was a 4A finalist at third singles a year ago.
Meanwhile, Olsen was triumphant over a pair of veterans in Averee Beck of Crimson Cliffs and Kylie Kezos of Dixie. Beck was the 4A finalist at second singles last season, while Kezos, like Olsen, was a 4A semifinalist at first singles in ‘20. Olsen only dropped a pair of games to Beck, and she also defeated Kezos, the Region 9 champ, in straight sets.
Kendrick continued her last-season surge with a pair of impressive performances Friday. The senior won her first match 6-0, 6-0, and then cruised past Ridgeline’s Emma Hansen by a 6-2, 6-0 scoreline in the semifinals. Hansen and Kendrick split their matches during the regular season.
Like Kendrick, Murri coasted to a 6-0, 6-0 victory in the first round, but her semifinal match was a barnburner. The sophomore edged Mandy Beckstrand of Crimson Cliffs, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, to punch her ticket to the championship round.
Both Green Canyon doubles teams were dominant, just like they have all season long. Phillips and Wilkinson only dropped a combined three games in their two matches. Their semifinal win was against Mountain Crest’s Emma Child and Kate Hardy.
Up next for Wilkinson and Phillips is a much awaited rematch against Gabby Hafen and London Wunderli of Crimson Cliffs, the defending champions at first doubles. Wunderli and Hafen beat Phillips and Wilkinson in three sets in the semifinals a year ago, although the Green Canyon duo got their revenge earlier this season at the St. George Invite. That match was contested in a pro set.
Checketts and McKenna double bageled their opponents in the quarterfinals and then reigned supreme against Whitney Matheson and Bailey Spackman by a 6-0, 6-4 scoreline in the semis. Both Green Canyon doubles teams have only lost once this season and that was to Skyridge. Likewise, Huebner’s lone loss this season was to a girl from Skyridge.
Every program from Cache Valley prevailed in at least one match Friday. Ridgeline and Bear River are tied for fourth place with three points apiece, while Logan, Mountain Crest and Sky View all have one point. Those three teams are tied for 6th place.
In addition to Hansen, the Riverhawks got opening-round victories from third singles player Kaitlyn Horsburgh and their second-doubles tandem of Katelyn Simon/Kiersten Daines. Kennedy Jenkins, Logan’s No. 2 singles player, went 1-1, as did Sky View’s first doubles duo of Allie Payne and Kennadee Wallace and Mountain Crest’s aforementioned first doubles team.