It was no surprise Saturday that the Green Canyon Wolves would be a contender for the 4A girls state tennis tournament title.
The Wolves were the two-time defending champions and every player had surged through the first two rounds after Thursday’s play at Liberty Park. Usually, the 4A crown is a heated battle between schools from Cache Valley and the St. George area.
But this season, Orem High was a new 4A member, and the Tigers took advantage of Maya Inouye’s strong effort. She downed every opponent on her way to the No. 1 singles title, and that turned the team title fight into an exciting battle that wasn’t decided until Green Canyon’s Liz Murri and Carly Nielsen won their match to give the Wolves’ girls their third straight award to place in their trophy cabinet.
Green Canyon finished with 52 points, followed by Orem at 48, Snow Canyon (29), and Provo and Crimson Cliffs (23). Hillcrest had 20.
Green Canyon won individual crowns in No. 2 and No. 3 singles, as well as No. 1 doubles — and needed each of them.
“Our doubles team played so clean,” said Green Canyon coach Camille Jeppson. “We planned for week that this would be a tough tournament with Orem. Usually, by the finals, we already know who is going to win, but not this time. We just had to focus on winning each of our matches.”
That was Inouye’s idea, too. A senior, Inouye was 5A state champ in No. 3 singles as a freshman, but had fallen in the quarterfinals in No. 1 singles in 2021 and 2022. She said she prepared for this event by working out with tennis players from 6A power Skyridge.
“I know I can compete with all of them. Sometimes they win, sometimes I do,” she said. “But state is a lot more nerve-wracking. I was really nervous.”
Inouye said she also had a dream recently in which she won state, but nobody cheered when she won the final volley. Ironically, when she downed Hillcrest’s Fabiana Gonzalez late Saturday afternoon, her winning shot clipped the top of the net and barely fell forward, preventing a return.
Inouye said the crowd watching the match barely responded until Inouye finally sprinted toward the net with her biggest emotional outburst of the season.
“That’s not how I wanted it to be, but then I just got so excited,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect; it just happened, and I just ran to the net as fast as I could.”