Turns out that Naya Tillit winning state championships is no fluke.
Tillit proved that on Saturday by winning her second straight singles title, again beating a powerhouse player who herself regularly downs other opponents on the Class 4A level.
And Tillit is only a sophomore.
The Ridgeline ace stroked her way to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Park City’s Livi Rockwood in the 1st Singles finale.
It was a rematch of last year’s Class 3A singles championship, in which Tillit also won.
“I feel so relieved right now. It feels better actually, because I just felt so much pressure,” said Tillit. “Now that it’s over, I just feel so happy that I was able to pull through.”
Rockwood, a junior who won the 3A singles title as a freshman, said that the feeling was different for her this time around.
She explained that Tillit was an unknown quantity when they first met a year ago.
“It was just kind of a shock (in 2016) because, for some reason, I was being really cocky and was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to win,’ ” Rockwood said. “I had never seen her before, she was a freshman, and I was freaking out. When I lost, it was emotions overload.
“But this year, I’ve played her since then and have never beat her,” she added. “She deserves it. She’s an amazing player.”
Rockwood’s best chance in Saturday’s match, at the Salt Lake Tennis and Health Club, came in the second set.
When the Miners’ player broke Tillit for a second time in a row, she evened the set at 3-3. But Tillit broke back and then was able to hold serve to go up by a pair of games.
One final break of serve then happened for Tillit and the match was hers.
“I knew it was going to be really tough,” Tillit said. “I was really nervous, but I wanted to just relax and play my best tennis and let the outcome happen whatever it was.”
Both players seemed inclined to stay at the baseline and slug it out, but Rockwood gradually started to try to change the pace of her shots.
“My coaching told me that the way to beat her was to mix it up,” Rockwood said. “But that’s not really my game.”
“She hits really hard. I felt, as the match progressed, we couldn’t just keep hitting as hard as we could. Balls were sailing long and out,” Tillit said. “We both had to put some more top-spin on the ball and more depth.”
Gabby Rockwood, Livi’s sister, was victorious in 2nd Singles. That combined with a 3rd Singles victory by Taylor Matz helped push Park City to the team championship.
Class 4A Girls Tennis Finals
Naya Tillit, Ridgeline def. Livi Rockwood, Park City 6-2, 6-3
Gabby Rockwood, Park City def. Faith Hess, Desert Hills 6-2, 6-2
Taylor Matz, Park City def. Aspen Jones, Orem 7-6, 6-3
Heather Rosklelley/Cambrie Anderson, Logan def. Emily Pehrson/Ali Wolford, Ridgeline 6-4, 6-3
Tia Turley/Lyndsi Graf, Desert Hills def. Isabel Adams/Gabby Bailey, Orem 4-6, 6-0, 6-2
1. Park City, 20; 2. Desert Hills, 15; (tie) Ridgeline, 15; 4. Orem, 13; 5. Logan, 8.