Olympus Titans win state championship for girls tennisNov 01, 2022 08:01PM ● By Daniel Olsen
By Daniel Olsen | [email protected]
Olympus continued their dominance at the state level by winning the 5A UHSAA Girls State Championship at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City[LL1] Oct. 1. While they didn’t win at every spot, the depth of their team across singles and doubles is what really led to a team victory.
“Sophie Dowdell didn’t like doubles at first because it wasn’t comfortable for her,” Olympus girls tennis coach Katie Zimmerman said. “Morgan Longson, Mimi Hoggan and Alexandra Rawlings gave us momentum in doubles and beating Woods Cross in those events knocked them out and helped us gain more points.”
Woods Cross had a couple of girls finish first in the top two singles positions. However, what counts in the team championship is the combined results of the top three singles spots as well as the two doubles teams.
“We have eight superstars and other teams have only one or two stars,” Zimmerman said. “That’s what got us the win. We had all five positions make it to the semifinals and four made it to the finals. It was really fun that it was a full team win.”
While she didn’t take home the gold, Elisabeth Carter gained some critical points for the Titans by advancing to the championship round for the second singles position after coming off an injury after her sophomore season last year.
“I think I did good,” Carter said. “Going into the state tournament, I was seeded No. 2 for my draw. In the first match against Lehi, I won most of the points. Against Springville in the second round, I won 6-0 and 6-1.”
Carter then entered a challenging semifinal match and learned some lessons in the process.
“The semifinal was a bit harder,” Carter said. “I played the girl seeded just below me. She beat one teammate around my level before. I was thinking about that and went in a little more nervous. She was planning at an insane level. I won the first set 7-5. It was a hard setting to play in because so many people were watching. In the second set, I lost 3-6. In the third set, I was stressed because so many people were watching. People in my club were cheering for the other girl as well as coaches and parents. I went down 1-5, but came back and won the third set 7-5. I was being more aggressive trying to take the ball right off the bounce. I showed that I could come back after however much I was down. It was a three-hour 40-minute match. I lost in the finals to the No. 1 seed.”
Playing tennis at the level that Carter does requires practicing five to six days per week. Some don’t even go to school full time at those spots because they are trying to make it on a college team.
“I really want to play in college,” Carter said. “After my year off due to injury, I’ve been trying to get my UTR rating up. I’ve loved tennis ever since I was young. It’s an outlet for me. Some people don’t like the sports they are pushed in. After school that’s really all I like to do. I like to progress and get better. It helps me a lot as a person with the mental aspect of tennis. It helps me work towards those goals I’ve had for a while.”
All of the varsity talent will be returning next year for Olympus. It has been quite the process for coach Zimmerman to become the leader of a championship program.
“I had an older daughter on the team,” Zimmerman said. “She was on the varsity team. I was an assistant coach for a few years and helped because they needed a new coach. This is my second year as head coach. I have a daughter on a team now who is on junior varsity. Only seven people play varsity. I just want to be with her. I love tennis and started as an adult. I play in an adult league now.”
Even though it is the offseason, that doesn’t mean that tennis activities will cease for the Olympus Titans.
“We will do some fun stuff on the side,” Zimmerman said. “My daughter goes four times a week on her own. Our elite players will work with private coaches. We will focus on more team building. Doubles is where we will focus. We always struggle the most to fill those positions because teenagers don’t always feel comfortable. We have to be strong depth-wise to keep winning state championships.”
While Carter is a self-motivated player, she mentioned how much her family has influenced her in her tennis journey.
“My mom and dad have helped me the most with tennis,” Carter said. “My dad played football in college. My mom and him are invested in my success only if I want to do it. My dad is a super great coach. I appreciate that he will support me.”
While women’s tennis is popular on a worldwide level with the rise of players like the Williams sisters, it is difficult for it to match the notoriety of basketball and football that sell more tickets at Olympus High School.
“Our high school administration tries to get the word out when we are playing,” Zimmerman said. “Sometimes I would pay for people to get in. Many people don’t understand the sport. I’m not sure if that will ever change. People just don’t know how to come to an event and know when they are allowed to cheer for it. It is not the most crowd-friendly sport. More people are turning to tennis. Even if some players don’t play varsity, they can still play tennis forever. I started a tennis academy that has 50 additional girls. They have a different coach. They play different developmental teams. Our total group is 70 strong. We have a team atmosphere.”