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Sugar House Journal

Rams make noise at state girls tennis tournament

Nov 07, 2018 16h04 ● By Jana Klopsch

Highland High School sophomore Sophie Hastings poses with her second-place medal she won at the Class 5A girls tennis tournament, held Oct. 4 and 6. The Rams finished fifth as a team. (Photo courtesy of Jeanine Elsholz.)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]

What a difference a year makes for the Highland High School girls tennis team.

Coming off a season in which it finished last in region play, the Rams turned things around this year, not only competing well in region but placing fifth in the Class 5A state tournament. 

Highland’s region and state performances were its best in years.

“We qualified our entire team for state, which has not happened in a long time,” said head coach Jeanine Elsholz. “I could only check back to the 2010 records, but it hasn't happened since at least before then.”

At state, held at Liberty Park Oct. 4 and 6, Highland shared fifth place with Woods Cross by accumulating eight points. The Rams narrowly missed out on placing higher in the standings; Alta and Corner Canyon tied for third place with nine points each. 

Elsholz was excited that her squad was the only team in 5A to win all of its first-round matches. First singles player Dylan Lolofie, just a freshman, got to the second round by defeating her opponent 6-1, 6-3. In second singles, sophomore Sophie Hastings got all the way to the championship match. She won her first match 6-2, 6-2 and then got to the semifinals with a 6-1, 6-3 victory in round two. In the semifinals, she defeated Gwen Bryson of Timpview 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. Third singles competitor Isapeli Huhane, a senior, prevailed in round one 5-6, 6-3, 6-0 but fell in the second round 6-1, 6-0. 

On the doubles’ side, the tandem of seniors Shannon Maughan and Lauren Mayeda reached the second round with a 6-4, 6-3 win in the opener. They lost in the second round to a pair from Woods Cross by the score of 7-5, 4-6, 6-0. Second doubles players Abby Bradford, a sophomore, and Kate Creamer, just a freshman, picked a victory in the first round by getting past a duo from Farmington 6-2, 6-2. They had a tough time in the second round, losing to a team from Timpview 6-2, 6-2.

Elsholz was thrilled with her team’s effort and accomplishments, especially considering the struggles the program has had in recent seasons. 

“We were hoping to get a few more players through to the semifinals, but I am so proud of how far this team has come since last year,” she said. “This year has been a very special one. The turnaround in one year, from not winning very many matches, to winning almost every match we played was pretty amazing. It is a season I don't think any of us will soon forget.”  

Elsholz said she’s even more pleased with how her players carried themselves outside of practices and matches. 

“While I am very proud of what these girls accomplished on the court, I am even more proud of their reputation in the HS tennis community,” she said. “They are known for the great sportsmanship and kindness on the court, which is by far the most important thing to me. They all represented Highland well this season.”

The Rams arrived at state on the heels of a runner-up finish to eventual state champion Olympus at the region tournament. At region, Highland has 37 points to Olympus’ 45. 

“The success we saw this season was truly a team effort,” Elsholz said. “Abby Bradford and [Creamer] added the final pieces to what became a great team. Every position did their part in carrying their own weight and adding to the success of the whole. Our seniors, [Huhane], [Maughan] and [Mayeda] were able to use their experience to win a lot of matches this year. I was really happy that they were able to have so much fun their senior year and be able to win so many matches after struggling for several seasons. They were able to end their careers on a high note.”

Elsholz also credits the success to her assistant coaches Scott Olsen and Christopher and Brevin Elsholz (her sons). She’s also eager to see what next year’s squad can do, which will feature two freshmen and a pair of sophomores from this season’s team.