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Gamble proves doubly sweet for Skyline

Skyline's Katie Johnston, right, and partner Hillary Hays teamed up to win the 5A first doubles championship for the Eagles.
Skyline's Katie Johnston, right, and partner Hillary Hays teamed up to win the 5A first doubles championship for the Eagles.
Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News

On paper it had the makings of a risky move, given Skyline's long history of garnering region and state titles in girls tennis.

Feeling the team lacked the overall depth to overtake region rivals Alta and Brighton in the team title competition, Eagles coach Joanie Daily moved all of her strongest players from singles to doubles before the start of region play.

But if stockpiling its best players into doubles constitutes a gamble, then Skyline came away looking like a Las Vegas pro.

With arguably the strongest teams in the 5A tournament, the Eagles met little resistance on their way to claiming state championships in first doubles and second doubles. Hillary Hays and Katie Johnston defeated Lone Peak's Whitney White and Bailee Henneman 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 for the first doubles crown. Anna Adondakis and Kara Douville beat Brighton's Bristal Jacobsen and Jessica Osterloh 6-2, 6-3, to take home a title in second doubles.

Hays, Douville and Adondakis all began the season as singles players. None resisted moving to doubles, however, because they felt confident they could make a successful transition.

"I thought we would be a really good doubles team," Hays said of teaming up with Johnston. "We (had) practiced doubles at our practices because that's what we felt like our positions were going to be. When we started practicing, we were really strong as a team."

For Hays, a freshman, there was an added appeal of partnering with someone who had been nearly impossible to beat during her high school career. By the time Johnston wrapped up her senior season at Liberty Park last week, she had compiled a 62-0 match record against 5A opponents.

What's even more remarkable is that she didn't even lose a set against 5A competition from her first set at the Great Eight 5A Challenge as a sophomore until her first set in her championship match versus the Knights.

On the other hand, being down a set for the first time in forever wasn't the obstacle it would seem to be.

"In both my seasons before this, I never had a three-set match except for the finals of the first Great 8 I played in," Johnston said. "It's nice to show you can come back and win, even when you (face) tough players that are hard for you."

Adondakis and Douville faced more of a challenge during their transition from singles to doubles without the luxury of an experienced doubles partner to serve as equal parts anchor and tutor. They not only needed to adjust to playing together, they also had to adjust to playing doubles at the same time.

"They're completely different techniques in doubles and singles, so it was kind of weird at first," Adondakis said. "But it paid off in the end."

Skyline has a strong foundation for doubles next season. Adondakis, Douville and Hays all return. But the possibility remains of them returning and competing for a slot in singles.

Of course, they would have to beat out returning singles players like Emaline Steele and Gabrielle Fernandez along the way. And such a move could hinge on who joins the program next fall as well.

"It just kind of depends on who comes in next year I guess," Hays said. "We've got strong doubles teams (but) I might be playing singles."