Erika Olsen’s unbeaten streak lasted all season long and deep into the playoffs, where she finally met her match in the semifinals — but Olsen will be back next year for another run at a state title.
After going undefeated throughout the entire season, Olsen and several of her Bear River teammates traveled to Liberty Park in Salt Lake City for the 4A state girls tennis championships last Friday and Saturday, Oct. 9-10.
Olsen, a junior, came into last week’s tournament as the No. 1 seed from Region 11 after not even making it to state last year.
It didn’t take long to show that she earned the top seed as she dispatched her first opponent, Meghan Rasmussen of Uintah, in a clean sweep, 6-0, 6-0. She was almost as dominant in the quarterfinal round, defeating Pine View’s Ava Blake 6-1, 6-1.
Those two victories set up a semifinal showdown with Taylor Parsley of Crimson Cliffs, who handed Olsen her first loss all season with a 6-0, 6-2 victory. Parsley, the top seed from Region 9, would go on to validate that huge win by taking the state title in first singles.
In second singles, No. 4 seed Kelby Jensen fought valiantly for the Bears but fell in the first round to No. 3 seed Sally Fraser of Dixie, 3-6, 2-6. Madison Bywater also earned a No. 4 seed for Bear River and was matched up with the No. 2 seed from Crimson Cliffs, Camryn Stanger, who beat Bywater 6-0, 6-0 on her way to winning the title as a No. 2 seed.
Representing Bear River in doubles play were Carisa and Shannon Epling. The No. 4 seeds from Region 11 pulled a convincing upset over No. 2-seeded Natalie Ogden and Isabel Martin of Stansbury, taking the first set 6-3 and overwhelming their opponents 6-0 in the second.
The Eplings’ run came to an end in the quarterfinals at the hands of No. 1-seeded Gabby Hafen and London Wunderli, also of Crimson Cliffs.
Carisa and Shannon took the first set 6-4, but dropped the next two 4-6, 4-6 to bow out of the tournament after an inspired performance that nearly earned them a win over the top-seeded Mustangs. Hafen and Wunderli went on to win the state title, further validating the Eplings’ monumental effort.
Crimson Cliffs ended up taking the overall team title with 23 points, edging out Desert Hills, which finished with 20 points. Coming in third was Region 11’s Green Canyon, which earned 12 points on the strength of Maren McKenna and Kate Anderson’s state title in second doubles.
Region 11 was well represented overall. Coming in just behind Green Canyon in the overall team standings were Ridgeline (4th place, 9 points), Mountain Crest (tied for 5th place, 4 points), Bear River and Logan (tied for 7th place, 3 points), and Sky View (tied for 12th place, 1 point).
Jensen and Bywater wrapped up their Bear River tennis careers as seniors, while Olsen and the Eplings will return for their senior seasons next year to make another run at bringing home a state title to Garland.