There’s a new bully on the block in Utah’s 4A girls tennis ranks and, surprisingly, it’s nowhere close to traditionally sunny St. George.
The Green Canyon Wolves put the finishing touch on their best season in school history Saturday, winning three individual titles and rolling to a comfortable win on the final day of the state tennis tournament at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.
The Wolves advanced all five of their players to the championship match on the first day, and coach Holly Haslam said the team didn’t realize it had its first state crown safely locked away until a local journalist mentioned it.
“We didn’t realize it was a thing,” Haslam said. “It made last night a lot easier and less stressful. We still wanted our girls to do their best.
“The highlight was just watching the girls be able to enjoy the moment together. It’s something they had been working toward and they did awesome. To win in such a decisive way, to watch them realize the fruits of their hard work, was the best part.”
Green Canyon won three of the five individual crowns to finish with 21 points, followed by Crimson Cliffs (10), Desert Hills (9), and Bear River and Ridgeline (3). With just the championship matches scheduled on a cool morning, the tourney ended quickly and the Wolves had plenty of time to celebrate.
“Before last year, I don’t think we had anyone in the (individual) finals,” Haslam said. “We just have an amazing group of girls. They set their minds to it, worked hard and encouraged each other. We don’t have a lot of (tennis-related) facilities up here (in the Logan area), but they just set their minds to it.”
Freshman Bailey Huebner finished an impressive season with a win in No. 1 singles, and the teams of Alice Wilkinson-Olivia Phillips and Maren McKenna-Ava Checketts handled their opponents in their doubles matches.
Haslam said she was impressed with Huebner’s ability to shake off a first-game loss to an older opponent and rally for the win.
Wilkinson and Phillips were motivated to defeat Gabby Hafen and London Wunderli of Crimson Cliffs after losing to them in the semifinals last year. During the offseason, Haslam said the two Green Canyon players occasionally practiced against local older boys to try to improve.
“They wanted to do better and go farther,” she said. “They became closer — like sisters — because they’ve worked so hard together”
And they did it despite playing in a much-colder climate than the St. George schools, which had dominated previously. Cami Stanger (Desert Hills) and Cammie Hartman (Crimson Cliffs) still brought back individual trophies to southern Utah, but the majority of the event was staged for Green Canyon such that the Wolves’ administration had to change their plans and drive to Salt Lake in order to watch their athletes bring home a rare first-place trophy for the four-year-old school.
4A girls state tennis tournament
At Liberty Park
Team scores: 1. Green Canyon, 21; 2. Crimson Cliffs, 10; 3. Desert Hills, 9; 4. Bear River, Ridgeline, 3; 6. Dixie, Logan, Mountain Crest, Sky View, 1.
No. 1 singles: Bailey Huebner (Green Canyon) def. Erika Olsen (Bear River) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
No. 2 singles: Cami Stanger (Crimson Cliffs) def. Halle Kendrick (Green Canyon) 6-3, 6-4.
No. 3 singles: Brianna Hartman (Desert Hills) def. Emma Murri (Green Canyon) 6-1, 6-1.
No. 1 doubles: Alice Wilkinson-Olivia Phillips (Green Canyon) def. Gabby Hafen-London Wunderli (Crimson Cliffs) 6-3, 6-2.
No. 2 doubles: Maren McKenna-Ava Checketts (Green Canyon) def. Taylee Anderson-Tessa Fielding (Desert Hills) 6-3, 6-3.