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High school girls tennis: Woods Cross, Highland share 5A state title

Woods Cross High School’s Sage Bergeson hits a return as she and Highland’s Dylan Lolofie battle for the 5A tennis state championship.
Woods Cross High School’s Sage Bergeson hits a return as she and Highland’s Dylan Lolofie battle for the 5A tennis state championship at Salt Lake Tennis & Health Club on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

For Wood Cross and Highland, Saturday’s 5A girls tennis tournament was a roller coaster of emotions in every sense of the phrase.

Thanks to a victory over Timpview by Lucy Foulks and Grace Harman in the second doubles final — which was the final match of the whole tournament — Highland tied Wood Cross with 17 points to snatch a share of the 5A state championship. The title is the first ever girls tennis championship for Woods Cross and the first since 1992 for Highland.

Both Highland head coach Jeanine Elsholz and Wood Cross head coach Molly Richards were overcome with emotion after their teams ended with a shared title.

“It’s just so cool and I’m so proud of our girls,” Richards said, while also mentioning she wasn’t aware that a shared title was even a possibility heading into the tournament. “The girls are so phenomenally talented and wonderful to work with. My job is just to make sure I don’t totally botch it and mess with their incredible talent. They should get all the credit, and I’m really happy for them to be a part of Wood Cross history.”

Woods Cross reached 17 points after freshmen Sage Bergeson and Emmy Richards each won the first and second singles finals, respectively. Bergeson defeated Highland’s Dylan Lolofie in two sets, giving her team a 4-point swing over the Rams that would end up being crucial to securing the shared title.

Bergeson said she was nervous heading into her first ever high school final, but said that going up two breaks at the beginning of each set helped her play loose.

“I was super nervous,” Bergeson said. “Going up early helped me a lot. Having that lead is always good because if you mess up — which I did — you’re still fine. … It feels amazing (to win).”

The wins from Bergeson and Richards put the Wildcats two points ahead of the Rams, who found themselves down one set to love in their second doubles match by the time the first and second singles matches had ended.

Foulks and Harman rallied back from the lost opening set to win the second and third sets, giving Highland the two additional points that ended up securing a first-place tie.

“There were a lot of emotions today,” Elsholz said. “We knew that it would come down to the doubles match, but I had trust in our second doubles team because they had played under pressure a lot and have not cracked.”

Even after hoisting the trophy and taking pictures with her team, Elsholz said the reality of her team’s comeback in the tournament’s final moments had yet to set in.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s real yet,” Elsholz said. “We’ve worked really, really hard for this and I’m so proud of the way my girls dug deep.”

A tie at the state tournament has been somewhat common lately for the 5A classification, as Saturday’s tie would mark the third time in the last 11 5A tournaments where the title was shared. Despite the recent frequency of the tie, there have only been nine shared titles in girls tennis since 1974 across all classifications after Saturday’s tie.

Though the title was officially shared between the two teams, only one team was able to take the trophy home immediately, while the other team would have to wait for another trophy to be mailed to them. Richards and Elsholz went head-to-head in a best of three rock-paper-scissors contest for the rights to take the trophy home, which Elsholz won.

Elsholz said winning the innocent game of rock-paper-scissors was a good final indicator of how the tournament ended for her team.

“Being able to bring that trophy home was definitely one of the highlights, although I had no idea (rock-paper-scissors) was how they determined who got that privilege,” Elsholz said. “(Winning it) was just very indicative of our team pulling through when it matters, even in something as simple as rock-paper-scissors.”

Though they didn’t get to take the trophy home right away, the Woods Cross program certainly has a lot to look forward to in addition to the trophy that will be coming in the mail. With proven, young freshmen talent like Bergeson and Emmy Richards — who is the daughter of coach Richards — Woods Cross will likely continue to be in the mix at future tournaments.

“Those first and second singles spots are going to be solid for us,” Richards said of her team’s future prospects. “Now we’ll look to continue a strong supporting cast to come in behind them to help us stay competitive. They are young in age, but they are extremely experienced tennis players, so it should be a lot of fun.”

5A girls state tennis tournament

At Salt Lake Swimming and Tennis Center

Saturday’s results

Team scores: 1. Woods Cross, Highland, 17; 2. Timpview, 14; 3. Park City, 12; 4. Olympus, 7; 5. Alta, Salem Hills, Springville, 5; 6. Orem, Skyline, 2; 7. Brighton, Lehi, Maple Mountain, Spanish Fork, 1

Individual results

No. 1 singles — Dylan Lolofie (Highland) def. Elle Martin (Park City) 6-2, 7-5. Sage Bergeson (Woods Cross) def. Sofie Thompson (Timpview) 6-0, 6-1. Bergeson def. Lolofie 6-4, 6-4.

No. 2 singles — Emmy Richards (Woods Cross) def. Olivia Tarmina (Park City) 6-2, 6-1. Savannah Rosenhan (Olympus) def. Amanda Felix (Springville) 6-1, 6-2. Richards def. Rosenhan 7-6 (1), 6-4.

No. 3 singles — Reagan Harrison (Park City) def. Emilee Nicholls (Salem Hills) 6-0, 6-0. Samantha Kiburtz def. Raquel Passey (Alta) 6-2, 6-2. Harrison def. Kiburtz 6-0, 6-1.

No. 1 doubles — Elena Smart-Peyton Kossin (Wood Cross) def. Grace Anthony-Brooklyn Dowdell (Alta) 6-3, 7-6 (3). Emma Wilkinson-Kylie Woods (Timpview) def. Kate Creamer-Elsa Pearce (Highland) 6-3, 6-0. Wilkinson-Woods def. Smart-Kossin 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (6).

No. 2 doubles — Olive Esplin-Aubrey Page (Timpview) def. Mayme Hansen-Aly Inglish (Park City) 6-4, 6-4. Lucy Foulks-Grace Harman (Highland) def. Calianne Skinner-Elizabeth Francom (Springville) 6-1, 6-2. Foulks-Harman def. Esplin-Page 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2.