It was worth the wait.
Rowland Hall's Blake Harries dominated the 2A girls' tennis tournament Saturday to win her third state title in four years. She defeated St. Joseph freshman Joanna Matyjasik in consecutive sets (6-0, 6-0).
This time was different. It was Harries' first No. 1 singles title to go with her previous two in No. 2 singles.
It didn't come easy, thanks to the weather. Rain forced the event to change venues from Liberty Park to indoor facilities at Salt Lake Swimming for the first round. Later rounds were at the Tennis Club and Eccles Tennis Center at the University of Utah. What is usually a five-hour event at Liberty Park turned into a 12-hour marathon at the chosen venues.
Harries said the toughest part of the day was staying loose during the long delays between matches. To combat tightness, the Salt Lake native jogged up and down the Utah campus.
Nonetheless, she said things have been a lot worse than this. For instance, she had 20 stitches removed from her left thigh earlier this week after sustaining a freak injury. But nothing could slow the Winged Lion standout, not on this day. She was on a mission.
"After losing [in controversy] last year's final, I had the mentality to not lose a game this season. I know exactly what Joanna's going through right now. I made it a point to never feel like that again on the court," Harries said.
The seasoned veteran played aggressively, having no mercy on foes as she went 36-0 in three rounds Saturday. Along with Matyjasik, Manti's Rachael Mitsvotai and South Summit's Amandi Goodwin all fell to an incredible force.
"[Harries] is without a doubt the best athlete I've ever coached," Rowland Hall coach Tom Sleeper said. "She didn't start playing seriously until just before her freshman year. And she's come a long way since than. Power, she's always had that. But her consistency is much better from last year."
Harries perfected her accuracy in the offseason by lining up soda cans on the back lines and trying to hit them.
Rowland Hall continued its reign of dominance in 2A tennis. The Winged Lions won their fourth consecutive title with 17 team points. Jenn Livermore defeated St. Joseph's Alex Montgomery in No. 2 singles and Maddie Loughridge topped Richfield's Seleni Shepherd in No. 3 singles.
"It's awesome; to be part of something so much bigger than individual [accolades] is amazing," Harries said.