PROVO — Reigning champion Desert Hills rumbled through the first two rounds at the 3A girls state tennis tournament Friday, standing alone atop the standings as the only team to get all five positions through to the semifinals.
The Thunder painted themselves as the team to beat after a three-set barnburner at second doubles that may end up being the most important match of the tournament.
"That was a huge win," Desert Hills head coach Dow Christenson said. "I think those are the best two teams in the draw at second doubles, and the winner obviously gets to go on and attempt to get more points for their team."
The Desert Hills tandem of Kelsee Broadhead and Angie Steck defeated Judge Memorial' s Ali Clayton and Alyssa Corbett after dropping the second set 6-1 by battling back from a 5-3 deficit in the third set to grab the 7-5 win.
Had the Bulldogs pulled out the win, there would have been three teams with four spots through to today's semifinals, and the team standings would be far closer.
"I think during the second set, we just stopped communicating," Broadhead said. "We really came back together in the third."
"We decided to just take it one point at a time and step up and start taking advantage," Steck added.
In the biggest upset of the day, at least standings-wise, fifth-seeded Bear River scrapper Krissy Nichols outlasted top-seeded Park City second singles player Alex Oriente in a marathon three-set match. Down 5-2 in the third, Nichols saved six match points over the course of two games to eventually even things out at 5-5 en route to the 7-5 win. Nichols and Oriente had met twice previously and split.
"I really rush so I had to learn to be patient," Nichols said. "She's a very consistent and classy player and it was really fun to play her again."
In another upset of sorts, newcomers to 3A — Manti's 2A defending champion first and second doubles teams — were both eliminated in the second round.
"Obviously, we like 2A better," Manti head coach Dean Hatch said with a laugh.
Play finishes today at the BYU tennis courts, with the semifinals and championship finals matches beginning at 9 a.m.