Maple Mountain junior Lauren Whiting and senior Kaitlin Boyd knew heading into Thursday’s first day of the 5A state girls tennis tournament at Liberty Park that the odds were against them.
As the No. 4 seed in No. 2 doubles, they weren’t expected to advance very far. They said they were just happy to get to state and talked at the beginning of the day about just counting how many games they won.
They had no idea of the drama that was in store for them.
The Golden Eagles started out playing well against Viewmont sophomores Courtney McDonald and Anna Layton — but the success on the court didn’t prepare them for an enormous added challenge.
“Halfway through the first match, I noticed that I was losing my peripheral vision,” Whiting said. “I developed a migraine, a really bad one.”
Maple Mountain head coach Kamryn Rose said she knew that Whiting wasn’t feeling well and watched her really trying to concentrate in the match against the Vikings.
The Golden Eagles still managed to get the 6-1, 6-3 victory and advance to the second round but Whiting’s condition wasn’t improving.
“I was taking it easy but still threw up a couple of times,” she said.
Boyd said that they weren’t sure if Whiting would even be able to play.
“I was so worried,” she said. “I thought we might have to forfeit.”
Maple Mountain even checked with the tournament officials but confirmed that no substitutions are allowed.
“I was so sad and stressed,” Whiting said. “I didn’t want to lose for Kaitlin (Boyd).”
But that was when miracles started happening for the Golden Eagle duo.
The first came in the fact that their second-round opponents, Brighton senior Jessica Hyland and sophomore Lucy Dalgleish, were battling through a grueling three-set competition.
That meant Whiting and Boyd had more than an hour and a half between matches, crucial rest time when dealing with a migraine.
The second miracle came, ironically, when Whiting’s upset stomach had gotten the best of her.
“My dad gave me a blessing but then when I was throwing up, this lady walked by,” Whiting said. “She asked what was wrong and when I told her I had a migraine, she said she could fix that.”
The stranger massaged Whiting for 20-25 minutes but the Golden Eagle junior said she started feeling better almost immediately. She went from not even being able to walk to the car to feeling like she could play.
Maple Mountain wasn’t sure what Whiting would be able to do and Rose even told Boyd to be ready to do most of the work.
“I told Kaitlin that Lauren might just stand there, that she might have to be going up to the net and all the way back,” Rose said. “But neither one of them wanted to give up. They wanted to play for each other.”
When the match finally got underway, there were some tentative moments for the Golden Eagles doubles team. But as the contest progressed, the third miracle became apparent.
Boyd and Whiting started playing better than they ever had before.
“That was the best tennis I’ve ever seen,” Rose said. “They were so consistent, so fast at getting to the ball. They had hardly any unforced errors. I’m just so proud of them.”
Their Bengal opponents simply couldn’t keep up as Maple Mountain rolled to the 6-3, 6-1 win, earning an unlikely spot in Friday’s 5A semifinals.
“I was not expecting this at all,” Boyd said. “I came in so nervous but now it feels so good.”
The Golden Eagles will have no expectations when they step on the court to face Timpview senior Rachel Gouff and junior Jamie Faux in the next round.
“It’s a great Cinderella story,” Rose said. “Hopefully they can stay relaxed and play their best. They are peaking at the right time.”
Gouff and Faux have two other Thunderbird teammates who also made their respective finals: senior Megan Austin in No. 2 singles and sophomore Gwen Bryson in No. 3 singles.
“These girls worked really hard,” Timpview assistant coach Jill Guzzo said. “They were second last year and they are performing really well. Even the girls who lost played tough matches.”
The Thunderbirds will need some help to dethrone Olympus, who has won three straight titles and advanced all five teams to the semifinals, but Timpview hopes to come out strong on the final day of action.
“The most important thing is for them to relax,” T’Bird head coach Amber Callister said. “Sometimes we get tentative but they need to just relax and swing, be confident in their shots.”
A few other local athletes also reached the semifinals:
Wasatch sophomore Alysha Damron (No. 1 singles), Wasatch senior Emma Santiago (No. 2 singles), Springville freshman Alexi Corfield (No. 3 singles), Springville freshman AnnaBeth Templeman and junior Brookelynn Galbraith (No. 1 doubles), and Skyridge seniors McKenna Mathis and Lindsey Schmidt (No. 1 doubles).
The final round of action in the 5A state tournament begins at 9 a.m. Friday at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.