Lady Thunder capture crown at Stephen Wade Invitational tennis tourney

Desert Hills players Cassie Kohler and Faith Hess compete in a doubles match at the Stephen Wade Invitational, St. George, Utah, Aug. 24, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Kristie Hess, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — At the Stephen Wade St. George Invitational high school tournament this past weekend, the Desert Hills girls tennis team won in dominant fashion. The Lady Thunder reached all five gold-medal brackets, posting three 5-0 wins over Snow Canyon, Tooele and Maple Mountain.

Other schools participating in the two-day event included Dixie, Crimson Cliffs, Park City, Salem Hills, Green Canyon and Sky View.

The Lady Thunder earned a record 7 points in the Stephen Wade event, breaking their own record of 8 points last year, according to Desert Hills coach David Smith, who explained that the scoring system awards one point for gold medal wins, two points for silver and so on.

“Park City, Salem Hills and Dixie all have great teams and programs,” Smith said. “We love the competition each of these and other teams provide when they come take part in these invitationals. But, there was no doubt about it, all seven of my Thunder ladies came out to play this week, and to sweep all their final matches without giving up a set I think sent a message to other teams.”

In first singles, senior Morgan “Mo” Behymer led the team with three consecutive 8-0 routs of the three teams Desert Hills faced. Behymer knocked off Salem Hills’ top player in the semifinals 8-2 and then scored a solid straight-set victory over Park City’s top player for the gold medal. Not to be outdone by her teammate, Mackenzie Telford in the No. 2 singles spot for the Thunder not only won her first three matches 8-0, but also won her semifinal match 8-0 against Crimson Cliffs’ No. 2 player. Telford, a junior, also went on to defeat Park City’s No. 2 player in straight sets to earn the gold medal.

In third singles, DHHS junior Tia Turley remained undefeated for the season with 8-0, 8-1 and 8-1 wins in her opening matches. Turley then dispatched Green Canyon’s third singles player with an 8-3 win. Turley took on Dixie’s No. 2 singles player in the final, beating her 6-2, 7-5 for her gold medal.

Desert Hills captains Faith Hess, Tia Turley and Mo Behymer proudly hold the championship trophy for winning the Stephen Wade Invitational, St. George, Utah, Aug. 24, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Hal Evans, St. George News

“Working hard pays off, so let’s keep working hard,” Turley said afterward as she encouraged her teammates to finish strong.

In the first doubles position, Thunder duo seniors Cassie Kohler and Faith Hess went 8-0, 8-0 and 8-2 in their opening matches. They then defeated Salem Hills’ top doubles team 8-2 in the semis, after which they knocked off the top Park City team 6-4, 7-5 in an exciting final.

Two newcomers to the Thunder varsity this year, senior Anjolie Cummins and sophomore Malika Maxwell, also won their opening three matches on Friday, including a hard-fought, come-from-behind 9-7 win over Maple Mountain in their third match. They then lost an even closer match, 8-9 in the semifinals against Salem Hills, setting up a rematch of their only region loss, a 6-7 third set tiebreaker to Dixie that they had suffered last Tuesday. This time, Cummins and Maxwell came out firing on all cylinders against the Flyers duo, winning 8-2 to earn the bronze medal.

Smith said his players are already looking forward to competing in the second of two Stephen Wade invitational events the weekend of Sept. 6-7.

“We still have a number of things to improve on,” Smith said after the Saturday’s trophy presentation. “We will not take anything for granted. These girls want to improve even as they demonstrated a clear dominance over some of the top Utah teams.”

This week’s upcoming Region 9 dual matches are as follows, with each taking place at 4 p.m.

Tuesday’s four matches will feature Snow Canyon at Desert Hills, Pine View at Canyon View, Hurricane at Dixie and Crimson Cliffs at Cedar.

Thursday’s schedule is Desert Hills at Crimson Cliffs, Hurricane at Snow Canyon, Cedar at Canyon View and Dixie at Pine View.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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