SOUTHERN UTAH – After a season filled with fierce rivalries, intense matches and a few surprises, the Region 9 girls’ tennis teams will put forth their best efforts at the State tournament this Friday and Saturday in Salt Lake City.
At the Region tournament, held Sept. 28 and 29 at the Green Valley Spa in St. George, the five varsity positions (1st, 2nd and 3rd singles, 1st and 2nd doubles) from the seven Southern Utah schools (Canyon View, Cedar, Desert Hills, Hurricane, Pine View, Snow Canyon and Dixie) battled it out to earn a seed for State. Unlike previous years, where five went through, only the top four seeds in each position qualified.
Desert Hills put forth a solid group effort. Both of their doubles teams finished in second place, while their singles players captured the third seeds. And though this result was a far cry from their domination in 2008, 2009 and 2010, they were the only Region 9 school to qualify in every position.
Defending 1st singles state champion Lacey Hancock returned with the same intensity that won her the title last year. She didn’t drop a set on her way to taking the top seed and knocking Dixie heavyweight Cydnee Wilkinson into second. Her success blazed the trail for Pine View’s 3rd singles, 1st and 2nd doubles to qualify, the latter of which did so in first place.
Though neither of their doubles teams qualified for State, Snow Canyon won Region in overall points. 2nd singles Bergen Nelson and 3rd singles Emily Till charged through their matches to take first, while 1st singles Franchesca Eklund finished in third.
“(My plan at State) is just to play my game, whether I’m playing someone who’s not as good as me or who’s better than me,” Nelson said.
The 1st doubles team of Lindsey Olsen and Kristan Stewart mixed up the competition as the only players from Cedar to qualify. They defeated Desert Hills in a tough three-set final to earn the top seed.
Coming off an average season, Hurricane managed to qualify in three positions. None of Canyon View’s players made it through to State.
1. Lacey Hancock – Pine View
2. Cydnee Wilkinson – Dixie
3. Franchesca Eklund – Snow Canyon
4. Madz Eames – Desert Hills
1. Bergen Nelson – Snow Canyon
2. Jordyn McGinnis – Desert Hills
3. Emily Wilson – Hurricane
4. Shellbe Watson – Dixie
1. Emily Till – Snow Canyon
2. Kenedi Cooper – Dixie
3. Megan Knudsen – Desert Hills
4. Shaylynn Riddle – Pine View
1. Lindsey Olsen/Kristan Stewart – Cedar
2. Taylor Cooney/Paige Harris – Desert Hills
3. Stephanie Snow/Bailey Callahan – Pine View
4. Madison Farish/Andi Behunin – Hurricane
1. Brianna Rucci/Hannah Erekson – Pine View
2. Maddi Black/Amanda Cottle – Desert Hills
3. Xela Armstrong/Savannah Ream – Dixie
4. Lauren Parker/Jessica Langston – Hurricane
As for what Region 9’s girls will face at State, Dixie assistant coach Ken Cooper predicted, “I always expect Judge Memorial to be good. You never know what Park City is going to bring, so they’re definitely a threat. There will be big competition between our four (local) schools: Snow Canyon, Pine View, Desert Hills and Dixie.”
The State tournament will be held at the Liberty Park tennis facility in Salt Lake City this Friday and Saturday, with matches beginning at 8:30 a.m. The event is regulated by the Utah High School Activities Association.
Players, coaches and supporters set out on the long drive to Salt Lake City Thursday. Some settled into their hotels, while others took in the sights or put in practice time on the court. One thing all can agree on, though, is that the weekend will be filled with thrilling matches and hopefully, a strong finish for Southern Utah.
“Region 9 is the strongest in state,” Desert Hills coach Dow Christenson said. “They will do very well.”
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.