The Stansbury girls tennis team came into Tuesday’s match at home against county rival Tooele hoping to sweep its neighbor to the south in order to strengthen its grip on the Region 10 title.
The Stallions learned the same lesson the rest of the region has: the Buffaloes aren’t exactly an easy out. Tooele might not have much varsity experience, but it makes up for it in heart, and the Buffs were able to continue their streak of not being shut out in region play. And while Stansbury still came away with a 5-1 win, the Stallions’ margin for error in the region title race became razor-thin.
Stansbury went into Thursday afternoon’s match against Ogden needing to beat the Tigers outright to clinch the region title. Had the Stallions swept Tooele, they could have clinched the crown with a tie against Ogden.
“Tooele’s done some real good things to build their program,” Stansbury coach Jacob Jones said. “From our standpoint … we’re not playing the way we can, and that’s been really frustrating.”
The Stallions have had players in and out of the lineup because of COVID-19 quarantine, Jones noted. That has caused some major shuffling, particularly in doubles, and that led to three relatively close matches. Natalie Ogden and Izzy Martin beat Tooele’s Camilla Pankratz and Cately Jensen 6-3, 6-2 at first doubles, and Taylor Jarvis and Ceili Crawford were 6-2, 6-4 winners over Brooklyn Petersen and Ashlyn High at third doubles. It was at second doubles where Tooele got the upper hand, with the Buffs’ Marynn Hamilton and Brinley Dunn beating Elyse Beazer and Ashlyn Leary 6-4, 6-1.
“To drop a point when you know (the region title race) is going to be tight, it hurts,” he said. “We’ve got a chance for region, and that’s the first real chance we’ve had since I’ve been coaching, which is awesome. It also puts the pressure on. We’re sitting right there — we tied Uintah, and with the other teams, when Uintah’s won 5-1, we’ve gone 6-0 against them.”
Tooele coach Lyle Nielson was pleased with the fight his team showed Tuesday afternoon — something the Buffs have done all season long.
“Stansbury whomped on us again, but we competed at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles,” Nielson said. “The girls are just continuing to get better. It’s tough to get wins sometimes, but they’re playing well.”
Stansbury dominated play in singles. Liz Fidler was a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Angela Shaw at first singles, and Rylee Sorensen beat Hannah Sheppard 6-0, 6-0 at second singles. The third singles match was a bit tighter, with Anna Jones prevailing 6-1, 6-4 over Madeline Shepard.
Stansbury traveled to Ogden and Tooele played host to Cedar Valley in their respective region finales Thursday. After the Buffs face Cyprus in a non-region road match Monday afternoon, both THS and SHS will turn their focus to the Region 10 tournament, to be hosted by Ogden High on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.