They say if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
In a tournament dominated by Region 4 squads, the level of competition they faced all season was surely a factor in favor of the Skyridge girls tennis team, which persevered through two days of intense play to capture the 6A state title on Oct. 10.
Every Falcon entrant who qualified for the tournament went as far as the semifinals. Skyridge players reached the title match in four of the five brackets and won two of them to accumulate 22 team points, outdistancing Lone Peak with 15 and American Fork with 8. Pleasant Grove had 7 points.
The Knights claimed the first three 6A trophies in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and had won seven of the past nine titles in their classification. It’s the first state championship in this sport for the Falcons , who are in their fifth season since the school opened.
Junior Lucy Droubay won the individual gold medal in second singles, and senior Jaya Cluff claimed the title in third singles. Sophomore Savannah Johnson in No. 1 singles and freshman duo Payton Carroll and Kylee Sperry in No. 1 doubles each earned the silver medal for finishing second.
Johnson (9-1) entered the tournament as Region 4’s top seed and breezed past Region 1 #5 Regan Bolos (5-5) of Fremont 6-0, 6-0 in the first round. She was challenged by Region 1 #2 Victoria Cooksey (8-2) of Layton in the quarterfinal but prevailed 6-3, 7-6 (3).
In the semifinal, she faced Region 4 #4 Grace Weichers (2-8) of Corner Canyon and defeated her 6-2, 6-2, but fell to Region 1 #1 Jacque Dunyon (10-0) of Weber in the title match 6-0, 6-0.
Region 4 #1 Droubay (9-1) played masterfully from start to finish. She beat Region 2 #4 Alyssa Pfeiffer (4-6) of West Jordan 6-0, 6-0 and Region 1 #3 Abby Allen (6-4) 6-1, 6-1.
She then eliminated the undefeated top seeds from two other regions on the way to the bracket title. Region 3’s Avery Pack (12-0) of Bingham bowed to Droubay 6-0, 7-5. The Falcon then prevailed over the champ from Region 1, Juliana Cooksey (10-0) of Layton, by the score of 6-3, 6-1.
By contrast, Region 4 #1 Cluff (7-3) didn’t face a single top seed in her sweep to the gold in what turned out to be the most unpredictable bracket.
In succession, she eliminated Region 1 #4 Kaitlyn Jensen (7-3) of Clearfied 6-1, 6-0; Region 3 #2 Anastasia Dunca (9-3) of West 6-0, 6-0; Region 3 #3 Ashlyn Robbins (9-5) of Riverton 6-0, 6-0; and finally, Region 4 #2 Mikayla Randall (10-0) of Lone Peak 6-2, 6-2.
Carroll and Sperry (5-5) only finished third in Region 4, but the freshman duo rose to the level of their competition and outplayed older and higher-seeded opponents to reach the title contest.
They first faced Region 2 #2 Athena Lam and Brooklyn Lee (8-2) of Taylorsville and won 6-1, 6-0. Then they took out Region 3 champions Malia Hansen and Eliza Roberts (11-1) of Bingham, upsetting the senior duo 6-3, 6-1.
Region 4 #2 pair Claire Pitts and Lizzie Muir (7-3) of Lone Peak put up a stiff fight but the Skyridge partners eventually prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. In the final match, they fell to Region 4 #1 Macie Amussen and Chloie Brinton (7-3) of Pleasant Grove 6-0, 6-2.
The Schmidt sisters (9-1) were bracketed as Region 4 #2 and were paired initially against Region 3 #3 Maggie Clayton and Kaycee Story (6-8) of Copper Hills, beating them 6-0, 6-4.
Next up was Region 1 #4 Megan Petersen and Molly Burnett (8-2) and the Falcons closed them out 6-0, 6-3. They bowed out of the tournament after a hard-fought semifinal won by Region 4 #3 Ashley Cowie and Ally Murdoch (4-6) of American Fork 7-6 (3), 6-4.
Skyridge graduates just two seniors from this squad so the Falcons can anticipate reaching a high level of performance next year as well.