Desert Hills Lady Thunder win 4A tennis title

State 4A champion Desert Hills tennis players with trophy and medals at Liberty Park, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 5, 2019 | Photo courtesy of David Smith, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Desert Hills High School girls tennis team won the state 4A championship Saturday, with the Lady Thunder advancing to four finals matches and winning three of them.

Desert Hills finished with a total of 24 team points at state while Region 9 rival Dixie brought home the runner-up trophy with 18 points. The Lady Flyers also made it to four of a possible five finals matches at the two-day tournament, which wrapped up Saturday afternoon at Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park.

In No. 1 singles, senior Morgan “Mo” Behymer of Desert Hills defeated Logan’s Yeeke Wang in the semifinals Saturday morning, 6-1, 6-2, but Behymer lost her finals match in straight sets to Naya Tillitt of Ridgeline, who won 6-1, 6-0.

Desert Hills head coach David Smith had high praise for Behymer following the match. Even though Behymer ended up losing to Tillitt, her wins to get to that final helped the Thunder win the state title, Smith noted, adding that the finals match was closer than the score would indicate.

“Mo made her work for every game,” he said. “The score doesn’t do justice the quality of tennis that was played between the two.”

Desert Hills players and coach David Smith (far right) hold the state championship trophy following the UHSAA state 4A tennis tournament, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 5, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Ron Enloe /, St. George News

The No. 2 singles bracket final pitted junior Mackenzie Telford of Desert Hills against Region 9 rival Mychaella Wisneske, a senior from Dixie. Telford prevailed in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1.

In third singles, junior Tia Turley of Desert Hills faced Dixie senior Brynlee Cardall in the finals, with Turley winning 6-4, 6-1.

In the No. 1 doubles final, Faith Hess and Cassidy Kohler outlasted Dixie’s Kalli Beckstrom and Ashley Kezos 6-3, 6-2.

“While the final team standing doesn’t seem that close compared to prior years, it was truly much closer than the score might appear,” Smith said, noting that Dixie matched Desert Hills point for point up to and including the semifinals.

“Major props to our region rival, Dixie,” Smith said. “Coach Cooper had his girls ready for state and they made things incredibly tight. I couldn’t be more proud to see our two Region 9 teams finish one-two this season.” 

The one state tournament match where Dixie managed to beat Desert Hills was the hard-fought semifinal battle in second doubles, in which Sally Fraser and Becca Little of Dixie defeated the Desert Hills duo of Callie Kohler and Anjolie Cummins, 7-5, 6-4.

“Dixie got a little payback after Callie and Anjolie knocked them off in our region tournament,” Smith said. “Dixie played a great match and earned it.”

Dixie High players and coaches after taking second place as a team at the UHSAA state 4A tennis tournament, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 5, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Ron Enloe /, St. George News

Meanwhile Pine View’s Olivia Obray and Katrina Hafen had advanced to the final by beating Sky View’s Emily Coombs and Saydee Godfrey in the semifinals.  That set up yet another all-Region 9 final, with Pine View battling Dixie for the No. 2 doubles title.

In the finals match, Obray and Hafen defeated Fraser and Little 6-3, 7-6 (6), with the deciding match going to a tiebreaker.

The Lady Thunder’s post-match celebrations were marked by tears of joy, Smith said. 

Smith said he told his team four years ago when he took over the Lady Thunder tennis program that he planned to win the state title within four years. Two years ago, the team finished second by two point; last year they were second by one point.

“Wiith five seniors in the lineup, each player knew that this was their final high school career match,” he said, adding that winning the state title was a fitting way for the girls to finish their careers. “I’ve spent close to 1,200 hours over the course of four years with these seniors. We’ve worked towards this goal each season, coming closer and closer, until now.”

To view the official brackets and team scores on the UHSAA website, click here.

State 4A tennis tournament, top 10 team scores

  1. Desert Hills 24
  2. Dixie 18
  3. Ridgeline 10
  4. Pine View 9
  5. Logan 6
  6. Green Canyon 5
  7. Ogden 4
  8. Sky View 3
  9. Snow Canyon 3
  10. (tie) Cedar City 2
  11. (tie) Crimson Cliffs 2
  12. (tie) Uintah 2

Updated Oct. 5, 11 p.m. to include quotes and additional details from Desert Hills coach David Smith.

Updated Oct. 6, 5 p.m. to include a photo gallery of pictures taken during the final rounds of the tournament by St. George photographer Ron Enloe. To see additional images on Enloe’s website, click here.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

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

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!