SALT LAKE CITY — When Gabby Hafen and London Wunderli walked on to their court for their championship match at the 4A girls state tennis tournament, they knew what was at stake.
Crimson Cliffs had a one-point lead in the team standings over Region 9 rival Desert Hills. A crowd of parents and fans had gathered to watch.
Hafen and Wunderli knew their opponents — Kasia Wittwer and Brianna Hartman — pretty well. They had split their season series, although Hafen and Wunderli won their region tourney match last week to help the Mustangs claim the team title.
“When you have players this good, at this level it can go either way. Was I confident? Not really. It just happened to be us today.” — Crimson Cliffs coach Colin Brown
After trailing early Saturday, they did it again, helping Crimson Cliffs to its first state tennis crown, and the third UHSAA-sanctioned title in the school’s short history.
“When you have players this good, at this level it can go either way,” said Crimson Cliffs coach Colin Brown. “Was I confident? Not really. It just happened to be us today.”
Crimson Cliffs finished with 23 points, compared to 20 for Desert Hills. Green Canyon had 12 points and Ridgeline 9. No other school was in the running.
After opening-day play at Liberty Park on Thursday, Green Canyon had a chance to compete for the championship, but most of their southern Utah counterparts proved too tough in the semifinal matches.
Crimson Cliffs won two titles in singles play — Taylor Parsley and Camryn Stanger. Desert Hills standout Tia Turley claimed the other. In each case, their final round opponent was a repeat of the Region 9 tourney.
Going into the final match on a warm, breezy afternoon, the Mustangs held a one-point lead in the team standings and Hafen and Wunderli said the pressure was evident as the crowd gathered.
“I tried not to think about it,” said Wunderli. “I didn’t want it (anxiety) to mess me up.”
Wittwer and Hartman actually took a 5-1 lead in the opening game before the momentum changed to Crimson Cliffs’s favor. Then, Hafen and Wunderli combined to win the next eight points to take a 7-5, 6-1 win.
“We just focused on consistency, and not always hitting ‘winners,’” said Hafen. “Coach (Brown) found it and, once we got the momentum, we just kept it up.”
Green Canyon’s team of Maren McKenna-Kate Anderson was the other champion, and that was the difference that allowed the Wolves to take third place. Coach Holly Haslem said she was proud of her team’s accomplishments this season, but it will take a lot to wrestle the team trophy away from the southern Utah schools, who have a significant warm weather and facility advantage, in the future.
4A State Tournament
At Liberty Park
1, Crimson Cliffs 23. 2, Desert Hills 20. 3, Green Canyon 12. 4, Ridgeline 9. 5, Mountain Crest, Ogden 4. 7, Bear River, Dixie, Logan, Pine View 3. 11, Uintah 2. 12, Hurricane, Pine View, Snow Canyon, Stansbury 1.
Taylor Parsley (Crimson Cliffs) def. Erika Olsen (Bear River) 6-0, 6-2
Mackenzie Telford (Desert Hills) def. Kylie Kezos (Dixie) 6-1, 6-1
Parsley def. Telford 6-2, 6-2
Averee Beck (Crimson Cliffs) def. Madi Poorman (Ogden) 6-1, 7-5
Tia Turley (Desert Hills) def. Kayli Hirschi (Pine View) 6-1, 6-0
Turley def. Beck 6-4, 6-4
Malika Maxwell (Desert Hills) def. Myriam Anderson (Ridgeline) 6-3, 6-4
Camryn Stanger (Crimson Cliffs) def. Ava Checketts (Green Canyon) 6-2, 6-1
Stanger def. Maxwell 6-0, 6-2
Gabby Hafen/London Wunderli (Crimson Cliffs) def. Olivia Phillips/Alice Wilkinson (Green Canyon) 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
Kasia Wittwer/Brianna Hartman (Desert Hills) def. Emma Hansen/Ellie Carlston (Ridgeline) 5-7, 6-2, 6-1
Hafen/Wunderli def. Wittwer/Hartman 7-5, 6-1
Maren McKenna/Kate Anderson (Green Canyon) def. Staeli Ellis/Norah Perry (Logan) 6-1, 6-2
Taylee Anderson/Brooklyn Price (Desert Hills) def. Lauren Ellis/Kaitlyn Horsburgh (Ridgeline) 7-6 (3), 6-2
McKenna/Anderson def. Anderson/Price 6-2, 6-4