Grantsville junior Maci Jackson was remarkably calm heading into her final match against Richfield’s Hayden Harris on Saturday at the Salt Lake Tennis and Health Club.
After all, playing for a state championship wasn’t uncharted territory. She’d teamed with Marissa Linares to win the second doubles state title a year earlier, so with the third singles title on the line, she knew what to expect.
“I was a little bit scared because I played doubles last year, not singles,” Jackson said. “It also gave me confidence because I knew I could do it again. I was definitely scared at the beginning of the season, but I knew if I just worked at it all season long, I could do it.”
Jackson rolled to a 6-1, 6-1 win in the championship match, which was moved from Liberty Park because of rain. She was dominant throughout the tournament, losing just nine games in four matches.
“I had to keep my nerves under control,” Jackson said. “I knew if I just played every point and didn’t slip up, I could do it.”
Jackson opened the tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 win over South Sevier freshman Aubree Robinson in the first round Thursday at Liberty Park. She beat Manti freshman Sadie Cox 6-4, 6-1 in the quarterfinals, and advanced the the final with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Juab senior Taelyn Ballow.
“Maci had never played singles in her life before this year,” Grantsville coach Stephen Thurgood said. “I knew that Maci had that ‘get-the-ball-back’ mentality and just hit everything back and got to everything. I thought she could (win it), and that’s why I moved her, and she seemed to get better and better as the year went on. It turned out really well.”
Jackson’s championship victory led Grantsville to a second-place finish in the team standings behind Judge Memorial as the battle for the state title came down to the final match. Judge ultimately edged the Cowboys for the title by a single point when the Bulldogs’ Ellie McCoy and Veronica Start beat Richfield’s Kristen Crowther and Ellie Hair 6-2, 6-4 for the second doubles title.
Grantsville’s title hopes took a hit when Linares, going for her third career state championship, was defeated 6-4, 7-6 (2) by Waterford’s Tanisha Martheswaran in the second singles final. Linares, a two-time doubles champion, led Martheswaran 4-1 in the opening set, and was a point away from forcing a third set on four occasions, but Martheswaran fought back each time and ultimately won the match in a second-set tiebreak.
Linares had scarcely been challenged in the tournament up to that point, rolling to 6-0, 6-0 wins over Gunnison’s Kaylee Dyreng in the first round and Manti’s Auri Squire in the quarterfinals Thursday. She beat Morgan’s Lauren Hadley 6-1, 6-3 in Saturday’s semifinal to meet region rival Martheswaran for the third time this season for the championship.
“When you play someone you’re about the same as, to beat them three times in a row is a challenge,” Thurgood said. “Marissa got on her a little early, but instead of Marissa running (Martheswaran) around, she was running Marissa all over the court.”
The Cowboys’ top doubles team of Paige Peterson and Lexi Colson also advanced to the final round, where they were upended by Judge Memorial’s Anna Drossos and Olivia Anderson in a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4 match. Peterson and Colson beat South Sevier’s Ashley Lowe and Janessa Stewart 6-0, 6-0 in the first round and earned a 6-1, 6-2 win over Annie Joseph and Anna Yarema of St. Joseph in the quarterfinals. They held off North Sanpete’s McKenna Nielsen and Nakiah Taylor 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the semis.
“I think they were too tight,” Thurgood said of Peterson and Colson. “They didn’t quit and they didn’t give up. Most kids, if they get that way, they just say, ‘oh well, what the heck’ and let it go. They didn’t. They fought back and they kept trying right to the end. I was happy with that.”
The Cowboys’ top singles player, Kayla Johnson, was eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual state champion Katie Foley of Rowland Hall, falling 6-0, 6-0. Johnson had beaten Delta’s Emily Sanders 6-2, 6-1 in the first round.
The second doubles pairing of Brooklyn and Brynlee Butler also lost in the quarterfinals, losing 6-3, 6-2 to Crowther and Hair of Richfield. The Butlers beat Tenzen Norton and Raica Kwizera of Wasatch Academy 6-0, 6-2 in the first round.
Tooele County sent three singles players and three doubles teams to the Class 4A state tournament at Liberty Park on Friday, with all losing in the first round against tough competition.
Tooele’s Pia Lorbeer, entering the first singles bracket as the No. 3 seed from Region 11, lost 6-0, 7-5 to Pine View’s Brielle Callahan in the first round. Region 11 runner-up Victoria Fidler of Stansbury lost 6-2, 6-4 to Dixie’s Angela Crooks. Stansbury’s Chanda Bigelow, the No. 4 seed in third singles, lost 6-0, 6-0 to Ridgeline’s Lucy Lyons.
Tooele’s MaKenna Baker and Kammy Hamilton, the No. 4 seed, lost to Erica Evans and Abbie Carmack of Desert Hills 6-1, 6-0 in the first round of the first singles bracket. No. 2 seed Maddie Johansen and Hannah Anderson of Stansbury lost 6-0, 6-0 to Charlotte Apple and Addie Southam of Snow Canyon. In second doubles, Stansbury’s Kenzi Knudsen’s and Mia Thurber lost 6-1, 6-1 to Spanish Fork’s Erica Allen and Tessa Clayson.