SALT LAKE CITY — Lone Peak girls tennis coach Roger Baumgartner said his team’s 2019 6A state title was unexpected.
But obviously, a nice surprise.
The Knights won their third championship in a row — and second straight 6A crown — on Saturday at Liberty Park, earning three individual state titles to finish with 20 points. That outdistanced Region 4 foes Skyridge, which finished with 12 points, and Corner Canyon with 10.
“We lost four of our varsity girls from last year,” Baumgartner said. “A lot of the girls that came to state didn’t have varsity experience so it was a huge deal. They just did everything we asked and worked really hard. We played in a lot of tournaments to get better for the state championships. It was a grind. These guys are overachievers and it was just incredible to watch.”
Junior Mandie Robbins claimed the 2nd Singles title for the second straight season and freshman Sydney Gardner made a big splash by winning 3rd Singles. The 2nd Doubles team of Claire Pitts and Sydney Allen also won a state championship.
“Claire Pitts and Sydney Allen winning state, that’s the story of the day,” Baumgartner said. “Last Saturday Sydney had an emergency appendectomy. She recovered from that and just the fact that she came up short last year, this is just awesome.”
Pleasant Grove’s No. 1 Doubles team of Lilly Craft and Chloie Brinton also won a state title.
“The addition of Skyridge and Corner Canyon to our classification has been great,” Baumgartner said. “Our region has made it so much tougher because there is a lot of parity. We were really lucky to come away with this. There were a couple of things that happened with other school in early rounds that helped us. It was just the luck of the draw.”
Robbins won the first set in 2nd Singles against Corner Canyon’s Emma Heiden but trailed 5-2 in the second before mounting a comeback. Robbins won four straight games to take a 6-5 lead but Heiden forced a tiebreaker. Finally Robbins hit a forehand winner in the seventh tiebreak to claim the championship.
Robbins talks to herself during matches and bounces around as if she’s listening to music, but it’s just a technique to help her stay positive.
“It’s very big for me, the positivity,” Robbins said. “It looks stupid but it works for me. People ask if I’m singing a song, but I have a routine. Sometimes I’ll say, ‘5-4-3-2-1’ and then I’ll say something positive like, “I’m a great player,” or “Yeah, let’s go.
“I really had to keep the ball in play today. I couldn’t really make mistakes but I also couldn’t just tap the ball around. I had to start hitting more to her backhand. I needed to take the opportunities when I got them.”
It was a big week for Brinton, a starter on the Pleasant Grove volleyball team that beat Lone Peak on Tuesday. Brinton — who also plays basketball, softball and violin — could teach a class in time management.
“Volleyball is my first priority and I come to tennis after practice,” Brinton said. “I usually stay at school until 7. Then homework sometime in there, too. I really can’t waste any time.”
Her volleyball coach, Allyce Jones, works with Brinton to make sure she can play both sports. In her high school days at Pleasant Grove, Jones won two doubles state championships in tennis and a volleyball title.
Brinton and Craft were locked in a tight battle with the Skyridge duo of Jaya Cluff and Alyssa Muaina in the 1st Doubles final.
“We played Skyridge before and split the matches,” Brinton said. “So we were super excited to play them.”
Pleasant Grove took a 5-1 lead in the first set but Skyridge stormed back to take a 6-5 lead. Eventually the set went to a tiebreaker before Brinton and Craft produced a win in the second tiebreak. In the second set, PG led 5-4 and got to 40-30 to make it championship point. Brinton hit the winner, a shot that just caught the line for the 6-4 win and the title.
“Communicating is a big part of getting to places and covering the court,” Craft said. “I feel like how we work best together is when we talk and communicate. We try to stay calm and don’t think about how it could go badly. We just think about the point and where the ball is. Winning the state title means the world. I never thought I would make it to this point, so I am so stoked.”
Baumgartner said Gardner has been steady all year, and the freshman played that way in the 3rd Singles final, beating Kenadee Armstrong of Skyridge 6-2, 6-3.
Pitts and Allen earned their 2nd Doubles title with a 6-2, 6-4 victory against Hollyann and Cassandra Schmidt of Skyridge.