ST. GEORGE — Tia Turley, a junior at Desert Hills High School, has been named the 2019 Utah girls tennis player of the year by the Utah division of the United States Tennis Association (UTSA).
Turley went undefeated this past fall to earn her second individual state championship and helped the Lady Thunder to their fourth overall state title and their first since 2010.
Thunder head coach David Smith, who announced the award in a public Facebook post Saturday, sent St. George News a written statement Monday evening with further details.
“I was completely shocked,” Turley said. “There are so many amazing tennis players on our own team and in Utah. For them to pick me was amazing and I’m beyond happy.”
Smith was also excited by his player’s accomplishment.
“I’m so blessed with an amazing team of worthy players,” Smith said. “Each player contributed to our success over the past four years. But Tia has been not only a remarkable player, her leadership as a captain this past season, her comeback at state in the semifinals, which was critical to our team title, and her two state individual titles set her apart among the many great players both on our own team and in the state.”
Turley has amassed an overall record of 57-1 as a singles player over the past two seasons. Prior to that, during her freshman year, Turley teamed up with Lyndsi Graf to win her first state championship in the No. 2 doubles bracket.
In her sophomore year during the fall of 2018, Turley finished 27-1, with her only loss being a heartbreaker in the state semifinals.
“I was determined to fight at state and turn the match around,” Turley said.
Turley ended up coming back and winning that match and following it with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Dixie’s Brynlee Cardall in the finals of the No. 3 singles bracket.
Turley thereby capped off her junior season off with a perfect 30-0 record, including some additional highly competitive wins at the Lone Peak and Stephen Wade Invitationals, her coach added.
“I’m now seeing that hard work leads to unforgettable moments,” Turley said. “I’ve also been taught by some of the best coaches and have been pushed and loved by so many, which I’m truly grateful for.”
“My three years in high school tennis have been amazing and have helped me grow in so many ways,” Turley added.
Smith said he is looking forward to next year as Turley, fellow returning player Mackenzie Telford and a number of newer and younger players, will try to defend the team’s 4A state title.
“I’m grateful having such a caring player as Tia to be a role model for our young girls coming up,” Smith said.
“She is so thoughtful and wants to help continue our success we’ve had over these past four years,” he added. “I call Tia my hero, as she has risen to the occasion so many times.”
The Utah USTA will host an awards dinner Jan. 30 in Salt Lake City, where they will present Turley with her award, Smith said.
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