It may just be mid-August but Marinn Patch, who plays No. 1 singles for the Lone Peak girls tennis team, found herself in a pressure-cooker match in the championship of the inaugural Utah Valley Ashton Invitational against Desert Hills’s Morgan “Mo” Beymer.
As the battle went back and forth in the finals, Patch found herself with an unexpected problem.
“I broke three rackets today and one yesterday,” Patch said. “I had to use one of my teammate’s rackets.”
Knight teammate Abby Ashton, a sophomore on the junior varsity squad, volunteered and Patch went back to work.
It wasn’t easy but eventually the top Knight singles player got the plays she needed to secure the 6-4 win in the final set, ending another impressive tournament for Lone Peak.
“I wasn’t playing very well in the first set but in the last two sets, I pulled it out,” Patch said. “It was fun being on the team and having them all support me. I think that really helped me.”
The Knights won six of the seven championship matches against Desert Hills to secure the tournament title.
Ironically, the racket Patch used belonged to the granddaughter of Alan Ashton — the co-founder of WordPerfect Corp. — who played a major role in supporting the tournament.
“The tournament has been incredible,” Lone Peak head coach Roger Baumgartner said. “With Pleasant Grove head coach Sam Dehoyos and American Fork head coach Jason Herrud, we sat down and felt like we could put together a pretty cool tournament that is nothing like anything these kids play in the state. With the generosity of the Ashton family, it made this possible.”
Alan Ashton said he loves the game of tennis and was thrilled to see the girls competing during the two-day event.
“It has been very rewarding to see the talents,” he said. “There are teams from as far north as Logan and as far south as St. George. All of the girls are good sports and playing well together. It’s a joy for me to see them play so well. Tennis is a game they can play forever. For the fans who come and watch it, it is very entertaining, very competitive and just a lot of fun.”
The logistics of organizing the Utah Valley Ashton Invitational were challenging as 16 varsity teams competed — including Lone Peak, American Fork, Pleasant Grove, Orem, Timpview, Timpanogos, Springville and Skyridge.
“We always wanted to make it happen so then we just made it happen,” Baumgartner said. “The response has been unbelievable.”
With expanded participation (four singles divisions instead of three and three doubles divisions instead of two) and the team-vs.-team competition, the athletes got an added sense of team.
“This is awesome because we get more playing time and we learn how to really we as a team,” Knight senior No. 1 doubles player Joslin Seaberg said. “We have to win four spots to win a match, so we have to cheer on every teammate, our junior varsity players just like they were our No. 1 varsity.”
Baumgartner explained that he saw a lot of great development from his tennis players, both on and off the court.
“From the 6A state championship team, we lost four of our best players,” Baumgartner said. “Nothing prepares the girls better for state than tournaments like this where they play so many different high-quality opponents. What it has done for them personally — I talked to a mom and said, ‘can you believe the difference in your daughter after playing four matches in two days? It’s just night-and-day.’ I can’t even put into words how valuable things like this are to developing their tennis skills and preparing them for region matches and state.”
He said there were some really good teams and the Knights were “lucky” to get through all of those.
“The girls are playing better but to be honest, winning was completely unexpected,” Baumgartner said. “We just came to have a good time. I’m proud of them.”
Seaberg said she believes the tournament experience will pay big dividends for all the competitors.
“It helps us improve and we get a lot of competition that we don’t normally get,” she said. “We have learned a lot.”