BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
SALT LAKE CITY — The Bountiful Lady Braves tennis team took home a state title after last Saturday’s final matches.
With four out of five brackets having Bountiful representation, the Braves took home one individual title and finished second in the other three brackets in order to capture their second state title in three seasons.
“My players and I are thrilled and excited about taking home a state title,” said Bountiful coach Desi Stuart. “I may not have had the strongest team this year, but I did have a team that played with their heart and soul. They played gutsy and gave more than I could have asked for.”
Bountiful’s lone individual title went to the second doubles team of Cloe Stocking and Sara Bennion, which beat Olympus’ Emily Watts and Hannah Durham 6-1, 6-1 in the finals. The Braves’ duo started the day by playing a tough three-set match against Skyline, eventually winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 to advance.
Stocking and Bennion’s advancement to the finals had already earned them enough points to win, however, Stuart said the team decided to play for more points.
“I told (Bennion and Stocking) after that match that we had enough points to win,” she said. “Their reaction was ‘we’re still going to take state (in the bracket) and they went out there and did it.”
Bountiful’s first, second and third singles players Kanela Adamson, Mariah Miller and Sara Jones were also in the finals Saturday. Each of took second place. Some matches proved particularly painful.
During her semi-finals match against Timpview’s Kate Cusick, Adamson went down with an apparent severe ankle sprain. It wasn’t until after her finals match, where she lost in straight sets to Orem’s Erica Valimaki, that Stuart found out the severity of her injury.
“(Adamson) said she heard a crack in her ankle,” said Stuart. “I later learned that she broke her ankle, but at the time she knew we needed the points so she continued playing and we wrapped her ankle after each set and in between matches.”
Stuart also said that even though she finished second, the rest of the team was determined to finish strong after hearing of Adamson’s injury.
“The courage it took for (Adamson) to walk on the court was unreal,” she said. “She played a gutsy, heart-felt match and it resonated with her teammates that day.”
In second singles, Miller dropped a straight set match 6-2, 6-2 to Skyline’s Sydney Monson to claim another individual second place finish for Bountiful. Miller was the second player to play a three-set match in the semis, beating Highland’s Carol Foote 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 to advance to the championship round.
In third singles, Sara Jones started the day with a tough semi-final match against Skyline’s Caroline Cantera. After dropping the first set 4-6, the junior took the next two sets 6-3 and 6-2 to advance to the finals.
Jones played two tough sets, playing 13 games before losing 7-6 (7-5) and 6-4.
Overall the Braves scored 18 points during the tournament, five points better than second place Orem and six points better than East and Skyline, which tied for third.
“As a team I told them how proud I was of them and how much I loved them,” said Stuart. “Whatever happened on the courts, I wanted them to go out and have fun, play their game and feel good about their effort.”
Stuart added that this year’s championship effort could not be done without the determination of the team throughout the season to win, and with the help of parents, assistant coaches and other staff, the state title may not have been possible.
“The one word that describes the team this year is heart,” Stuart said. “That’s how they played and that’s how they won. This team inspired those that watched and played against them and I have enjoyed working with such fine players and people.”
Region foe Highland finished fifth with eight points, followed by Timpview, Olympus and Bonneville. Woods Cross tied for ninth with Hillcrest, Logan, Salem Hills and Sky View.