SALT LAKE CITY — His hair may be a little grayer, but the results for Timpview girls tennis coach Nate Warner are very familiar.
Warner, who coached the T-Birds to three state titles in six years from 1996-2001, returned to the program just a few days before tryouts this summer.
“They twisted my arm,” Warner said.
On Saturday, the T-Birds crushed the field at 5A tournament at Liberty Park, qualifying finalists in every discipline and cruising to the school’s third straight state title. Timpview finished with 26 points, well ahead of second-place Orem (10 points).
“My philosophy is to compete every point,” said Warner, who also credited last year’s coach Amber Callister for her effort to help out this year. “Don’t beat yourself and keep the ball in play. I knew we had won two state championships in a row, so I sort of played on that. I told them, ‘You guys have won the last two and we’re shooting for a third.’
“These girls have been terrific. They’ve competed and they like each other. I’ve been super proud of the way they’ve come together as a team. They’ve worked hard, they’ve sacrificed, they’ve listened and they have been coachable. They are so driven.”
The T-Birds crowned three state champions: Sophomore Anna Stewart in 3rd Singles, the 1st Doubles team of juniors Emma Wilkinson and Kylie Woods and the 2nd Doubles tandem of sophomore Olive Esplin and junior Aubrey Page.
Senior Avery Pope (1st Singles) and junior Sofie Thompson (2nd Singles) earned runner-up honors as the final day of the tournament pretty much came up all blue and orange.
“I think Nate is an awesome coach,” Stewart said. “He has united us as a team and he had team parties to get us together, to help us get closer.”
Stewart topped Kylie Smith of Spanish Fork 6-1, 6-1 to earn a spot in the 3rd Singles final. Her opponent, Orem’s Kayla Carlson, survived a marathon first set to beat Springville’s Madison Galbriath 7-6 (10), 6-4 in the other semifinal.
Stewart cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory in the final to earn her first state championship.
“I just played my best and moved my feet,” Stewart said. “I kept my eye on the prize. The goal was to win state and I worked as hard as I could to try and win it. There are so many coaches that I have taken from that helped my game. I want to give credit to my mom, Krista, for taking me around to all the coaches and tournaments.”
The 1st Doubles final was a good battle between Timpview and Alta’s Brooklyn Dowdell and Raquel Passey. Wilkinson and Woods won the first set, had a 5-4 lead in the second and served for the match. But Dowdell and Passey tied the second set at 6-6 to force a tiebreak. Wilkinson and Woods dominated the tiebreak to claim the title.
“We won it by just being aggressive at the net and keeping our hearts in it,” Wilkinson said. “I think we are really good friends so we pump each other up and keep each other happy through everything that might go on. We kept our heads in it and stayed positive.”
Woods played 2nd Doubles last season for the T-Birds.
“I think we just had to calm down and take it one point at a time because if we got too stressed we can make unforced errors,” she said. “I was just taking it slow, getting my serve in so we could have a shot.”
In 2nd Doubles, Esplin and Page held off the Cinderella story of the tournament, Provo sophomore Hailey Wilcox and freshman Brooklyn Petersen. That team was the No. 4 seed from Region 8 but pushed through to the final with a 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (1) upset of Region 6 No. 1 Kate Creamer and Lucy Foulks in the semifinals.
In the final, Esplin and Page were solid throughout and finished with a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
Pope — daughter of BYU men’s basketball coach Mark Pope – moved up from 2nd Doubles as a junior, where she finished as the runner-up to Woods Cross’ Macy Richards. Pope ran into Richards again in this year’s No. 1 Singles final, where Richards earned a 6-2, 6-1 win.
Orem’s Maya Inouye finished her freshman season undefeated at 16-0 and was unshakable in her first state tournament experience, taking care of Thompson 6-1, 6-0 in the 2nd Singles final.
I don’t know, this is not what I expected,” she said. “I expected it to be – I don’t want to say harder, just more challenging. It was weird with the cheering and stuff. I’m not used to the cheering at my Orem matches or with the USGA. I hit my angle shots well today, stayed focused and never gave up on the points.”
Inouye said she is the only person in her family that plays tennis but her father, former Orem soccer play Kevin Inouye, is a tennis fanatic.
“He wishes he played when he was a kid,” Maya Inouye said. “I did soccer my entire life so far then started playing tennis at 10 or 11.”