Three months ago, Pleasant Grove sophomore Chloie Brinton was enjoying her summer and getting ready to be a contributor for the strong Viking volleyball program.
On Saturday afternoon at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, she was celebrating winning a 6A state title in doubles tennis.
Talk about unexpected.
The story of the emergence of this gifted sophomore on the tennis scene began with an idea and became a reality because of some very important support.
Brinton wasn’t completely unfamiliar with tennis. She said she played it casually with her family.
“I would play with my mom, Stephanie,” Brinton said. “She said she thought I would be really good so I decided to try out.”
She made the Viking varsity team, but faced the tough dilemma of how to juggle schoolwork, volleyball and tennis.
“I’ve been at school more than at my own house,” Brinton said. “I would be going from game to game every other day. I only was home to sleep.”
But the Pleasant Grove sophomore had a key ally in Viking head volleyball coach Allyce Jones — who had some idea of the challenges since she also played both sports during the season during her time as an athlete at Pleasant Grove.
“I know how much work she was putting in,” Jones said. “You wake up, go to school, go to practice, go to practice, eat dinner, go to sleep and then do it all again. It’s been fun to see Chloie repeat it.”
Thanks to Brinton’s dedication and athleticism, it didn’t take her long to figure out tennis.
“She got into it really well and looked like she knew what she was doing,” said Viking senior Maddy Harris, Brinton’s doubles partner. “She gets to the ball and that’s what you need in doubles.”
The duo kept improving throughout the season, but Lone Peak senior Zoie Black and junior Sydney Allen played really well. The Knight doubles team defeated their Pleasant Grove counterparts at the Region 4 tournament last week.
“We wanted to play them again,” Brinton said. “We knew we had to make it all the way to the end.”
The Vikings got their wish as both teams reached the 6A finals in No. 2 doubles, setting up a barnburner of a match. Lone Peak and Pleasant Grove each won a set, forcing a deciding third set.
“I was so nervous the whole time,” Brinton said. “I learned from volleyball that you have to be confident, but I really wasn’t that confident. I had to talk myself into it.”
Harris credited Brinton for coming up big in the second set when she was struggling, while Brinton said that Harris got her back on track after a rough sequence in the third.
“It was definitely stressful,” Harris said. “This is my senior year and we came through in the end. I wanted this really bad.”
Harris and Brinton surged in front and finally secured the dramatic win, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
“For the first time, I almost cried tears of joy,” Brinton said. “It was crazy. Everyone ran to hug us. It was awesome.”
Harris added: “It was surreal. This is what we had been working for, to win state. I loved it.”
There on the sideline was Jones, supporting her volleyball player as she followed in her coach’s footsteps.
“It gives me chills,” Jones said. “It’s fun to see all of her hard work pay off. She’s been able to make it work and be so successful in both tennis and volleyball.”