Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — They may not be stars yet, but they already know how to be team players.
The Bountiful High girls’ tennis team, who took home the 4A state title in 2012, is already hard at work training to defend their title. Some of last year’s strongest players have shifted positions, while some new faces are sharpening their fighting spirit.
“These girls play with all their hearts,” said coach Desiree Stuart. “They give me all they’ve got.”
Cloe Stocking, who won a state title last year in 2nd doubles, will be playing the singles game heading into the new season. Maria Miller, who finished second in 2nd singles at state, will also return and play in the same position.
Sara Jones, who placed second in 3rd singles last year, will be playing 1st doubles in the upcoming season. Sara Bennion, who teamed up with Stocking last year to win state, will now be playing doubles with Cassidy Gritz. “I have some really good girls,” said Stuart. “I don’t have anyone who’s super strong, but everyone’s really strong in their positions. We’re just a solid team this year.”
In order to help the team move from “solid” to stellar, Stuart is putting the players through a two-part training routine designed to improve both their physical and mental games.
The physical aspect comes through running and other related variants such as knee-highs.
Another technique, called ladders, requires players to touch every line on the court as quickly as possible.
“We’re trying to get the girls ready for tournaments in the hot sun,” said Stuart.
The mental training is more in the hands of the players themselves. Each week Stuart asks the girls what they can do to improve their game, genuinely listening for their opinions and shaping the training around them.
“I like to get their feedback,” she said. “Their insights are usually spot on.”
Though the team lost last Tuesday’s match against Davis, they did place first in a Cache Valley tournament the previous weekend.
The team’s next match won’t be until the start of the regular season, when they’ll head down to St. George for another tournament.
“It’s a good one to go to,” said Stuart. “We’re kind of playing all the teams we’ll have to face off against for the rest of the season.”
No matter who’s on the other side of the net, however, these girls will continue to play with all their hearts.
“They do everything I ask them to do,” said Stuart. “They’re awesome.”