Highland girls tennis continues recent run of successSep 29, 2021 13h37 ● By Josh Mc Fadden
Elsa Pearce and Kate Creamer have teamed up to lead the first doubles team this season. (Photo courtesy Julia Johnson)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
Not long ago, the Highland girls tennis team struggled to win matches or even find experienced players to put on the court. Now, the Rams are the top team in their region.
On the heels of two straight Region 6 championships, Highland is at it again, looking like a strong contender to capture the crown again. At press time, the Rams had won 18 of their 20 position matches on the season and were undefeated in region play. With the region tournament starting the final week of September, the Rams look poised to go into the state tournament as the top-ranked team in the region.
Head coach Jeanine Elsholz is optimistic about her team’s chances.
“We are hoping to hold on to that title at the region tournament,” she said. “I am guessing we are one of the strongest teams in 5A, and we are hoping to finish high at state. This year's team is the most experienced team I have coached since taking over at Highland five years ago. Every player on the team has a good amount of varsity experience, and they have all participated at state. There are a lot of difficult matches ahead, but we are working hard to be at our peak during the region and state tournaments.”
Highland entered this season having lost two seniors from 2020, including its top performer. But Elsholz said senior Dylan Lolofie (first singles) and senior Gabrielle Dooling (second singles) have filled those roles nicely. Lolofie played on the team three years ago as a freshman but sat out her sophomore and junior years. Having her back this season has been huge for the Rams. As for Dooling, it was a surprise to have her on the squad. She moved to Utah right before the season began.
“There is no question [Lolofie] is one of the best players in the state,” Elsholz said. “She has been the anchor of the team all season. [Dooling] is a talented player and easily fit in with the team. She has played a lot of tennis during the past several years, and she instantly made our team much stronger.”
The Rams’ success has also come largely from the performance of third singles player Sam Kiburtz. The junior has played on the team since her freshman years and has helped take the program to new heights.
“[Kiburtz] is committed to tennis and works hard offseason to keep improving her skills,” Elsholz said. “She played second singles for us last season, but with the two new players joining the team, she is playing third singles for us this year. She is thriving in this position, which is really helping us have a strong team.”
Kate Creamer and Elsa Pearce, seniors, team up in the first doubles position. Creamer was the first-place finisher in Region 6 a year ago at second doubles. A four-year varsity competitor, she has moved up this season and hasn’t missed a beat. Pearce is a team captain and leader. She played third singles last season where she was a region champion.
“[Creamer] has helped our team win for a long time,” Elsholz said. “She stays calm under pressure and has a lot of experience on the court. [Pearce] has shown a lot of maturity this season and has helped us get our doubles teams where they need to be to be successful.”
At second doubles, juniors Lucy Foulks and Grace Harman are the starters. Foulks was a region champion in this position a year ago when she teamed with Creamer. She is a three-year varsity player. Harman was a first doubles player last season, having captured the region title.
“[Foulks] loves the game of tennis, and it shows on the court. She has worked hard during the season to improve her doubles skills and it is helping our team in a big way. [Harman] has a great desire to be her best and has shown that she can play very well under pressure,” Elsholz said.
With the postseason now here, Elsholz is excited for the team’s prospects and the possibility of a strong finish.
“This team has a great opportunity in front of them, and they are hoping to make the most of it,” she said.