Prep tennis: Bountiful overwhelms Orem in head-to-head matches
It was the perfect setup: Orem and Bountiful, the top two teams in Class 4A, would face off head to head in all three singles finals. It would be the ultimate challenge for two programs that always seem to be butting heads in the playoffs.
The showdown in the finals proved to be no contest for the Braves, who were a perfect 3-for-3 in the singles divisions. Bountiful needed every win as well as a little help from a resilient East doubles team to earn the 4A title a year after losing by one point to the Tigers. Kanela Adamson, Kasey Bacon and Nikki Russell each beat their Orem opponents in two sets apiece to earn individual titles and seal a two-point victory for their team.
"It was a lot of pressure to be the last one," said Bacon, whose 6-1, 6-1 win over a fatigued Laura Waack in second singles clinched at least a tie for first for the Braves. "I was nervous for my team. I didn't want to be the deciding match, but I tried to stay as calm as I could."
Bountiful had to wait a little longer to see if Orem would tie them for first. Ellery Young and Whitnie Pearson had a chance to push the Tigers into the draw, but East's diminutive underclassman duo of Ruby Parkin and Hannah Wallin held on to win and keep an undefeated season intact. When they won, Parkin cried into a friend's arms.
"We couldn't believe it," Wallin said. "It was a huge shock. But we just trusted each other."
The Braves swarmed together off court and began to cheer. The Orem squad gathered around Pearson and Young, who were smiling despite an 0-for-4 performance in the finals from their team after a perfect first two rounds.
"We're really proud of our team and that everyone made it to semifinals," Pearson said. "There's a lot of pressure at states, and we feel like we played well."
Bountiful coach Desi Stuart got misty-eyed celebrating her first title as a coach with her team and watching them enjoy the victory.
"I didn't think we had a chance because we were so behind in points," Stuart said. "It just says a lot about their growth from last year and how hard they worked. We were scared, but we took it one point at a time, and they gave it everything."
In 5A competition, Skyline defended its title behind the championship performances of Alyssa Evensen and Erin Blessing, who won second and third singles, respectively. Neither of them dropped a set in their runs to titles.
"I would've looked bad if I lost because I won last year," said Blessing, who repeated in third singles in only her sophomore year. "We're just a really deep team with a lot of really strong players. Having everyone around and cheering each other on just makes it fun."
Although the overall title belonged to the Eagles, the doubles brackets belonged to Alta. Hope Masters and Brie Beck held off a gutsy comeback from Skyline's Sydney Monson and Analisa Nielson to polish off an undefeated season in first singles. By the end of the day, Lynsie Wolfe and Ashley Anderson had beaten Bingham to finish their own season without a loss. The two titles gave the Hawks the second-place finish in 5A.
"It's exciting to think we never lost a match," said Masters, who paired with previous title-winner Beck. "Since nobody had beaten us, everybody at school said, 'Oh, so you're going to win it, right?' It was a little bit of pressure, but we didn't think about it while we were playing."
The most dominating performance of the day belonged to Cottonwood's McKenzie Davis, who dropped Alexis Turley of Davis in a startling 6-0, 6-1 game. The win was the Colts star's second first singles title in her tremendous high school career, which came to an end on Saturday.
"There was a lot of adrenaline, and I was just thinking, 'Don't choke, don't choke,' " Davis said. "It was so huge, this being senior year, and I wanted to go out with the win. It's definitely up there in my tennis accomplishments."
It only took the Anjewierden sisters, Nicole and Abbey, two sets to quickly dispatch the Bonneville Lakers in 4A first doubles. And although it was nice for Nicole to win a title in her senior year, the duo said being partners made it the most memorable moment in both of their careers.
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First singles • McKenzie Davis, Cottonwood
Second singles • Alyssa Evensen, Skyline
Third singles • Erin Blessing, Skyline
First doubles • Hope Masters and Brie Beck, Alta
Second doubles • Lynsie Wolfe and Ashley Anderson, Alta
Overall team title • Skyline
First singles • Kanela Adamson, Bountiful
Second singles • Kasey Bacon, Bountiful
Third singles • Nikki Russell, Bountiful
First doubles • Nicole Anjewierden and Abbey Anjewierden, Ogden
Second doubles • Ruby Parkin and Hannah Wallin, East
Overall team title • Bountiful
First singles • Morgan Anderson, Desert Hills
Second singles • Solveig Karlsen, Park City
Third singles • Chloe Ropner, Judge Memorial
First doubles • Krista Anderson and Stephanie Nielsen, Desert Hills
Second doubles • Angie Steck and Kelsee Broadhead, Desert Hills
Overall team title • Desert Hills