ST. GEORGE- The Desert Hills High School girls tennis team defended its Region 9 championship from last year with another victory Saturday at TonaquintPark, all while sweeping each opponent away through region play.
Having never lost a single set during its regular season, the Thunder entered the championship rounds hoping to keep that impressive streak alive. Fate, unfortunately, had other plans as Faith Hess, Desert Hills’ 2nd singles player, dropped her opening set during what turned out to be the match of the tournament. Outside Hess’ lost set and being challenged by fellow competitors, the Thunder rolled in each of their final matches Saturday afternoon at Tonaquint Park.
“Could not have scripted it better,” said D-Hills head coach Dave Smith. “They were all standouts in every tournament we played this year. Today was the most pressure we felt all season. Usually when a team hasn’t played under a lot of pressure, they can falter. This team stepped up when the pressure was most intense. I think their results kind of speak volumes for how they are as individuals and a team.”
Resiliency, a possible core value for the Thunder, resonated in each match that took place. It all began in 1st singles with Morgan Behymer. In what was a frustrating opening set for Behymer, due to the noisy crowd and sharp play from Pine View’s Brielle Callahan, emotions were evident for Behymer.
After settling down, Behymer came from behind to close out a close first set and handled the second set for the 1st singles championship, beating Callahan 7-5, 6-2 in what was a rematch from last year’s region championship.
Yet, the most impressive appearance of resiliency came in the 2nd singles match between Hess and Dixie High’s Ashley Kezos. Both players brought their best stuff to their championship match. Kezos came out swinging as she managed to be the first and only Region 9 player to take a set from a Desert Hills player all season.
“Kezos did not play poorly at all,” Smith said. “[Hess] just put the pedal to the metal.”
After Hess tied the match with a win in the second set, Kezos found herself up 5-2 in the third set, only needing to win one more game to accomplish a feat no other Region 9 player could muster. Yet again, fate had other plans. Hess fought back and won the match 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.
“I just knew I couldn’t give up,” Hess said. “I had to push as hard as I can. I worked really hard this summer for this and I knew I had to leave [it] all out on the court.”
DHHS’s 3rd singles player, Mackinzie Telford, took care of business against Pine View’s Cameron Miner, 6-3, 6-0.
1st and 2nd doubles didn’t disappoint, no matter the side one was cheering for. Though the Thunder swept each match, Pine View and Dixie both battled, attempting to give Desert Hills a run for its money.
In 1st doubles, Erica Evans and Abbie Carmack defeated Pine View’s Ryann Blaser and Charisse Snow, 6-2, 6-4. Snow and Blaser really made the Thunder duo work for their victory as they forced Evans and Carmack to come from behind in the second set.
“We were pretty confident, [but] didn’t want to underestimate anyone though,” Evans said. “We are both seniors, so going into it was hard. This is what we’ve been working for. We have both dedicated a lot of time for this.”
The 2nd doubles were just as stretched for Desert Hills as Tia Turley and Lyndsi Graf met the Flyer duo of Tess Larkin and Kalli Beckstrom. In what was a long and hard-fought first match, Turley and Graf managed to scrape by. The Thunder pair then took the second set, giving Desert Hills a 7-5, 6-2 victory.
Pine View, under the direction of head coach Dave Crawford, took second place as the Panthers managed to place girls in three of the five final matches. Dixie was right behind them as the Flyers placed two in final matches.
The 4A State Tournament will be held at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City on Sept. 29-30.
Region 9 Girls Tennis Tournament
Morgan Behymer (DH) def. Brielle Callahan (PV) 7-5, 6-2
Angela Crooks (Dixie) def. Shayli Habibian (SC) 6-1, 6-0
Faith Hess (DH) def. Ashley Kezos (Dixie) 5-7, 6-3, 7-5
Hannah Obray (PV) def. Candice Gubler (Hurricane) 6-1, 6-4
Mackinzie Telford (DH) def. Cameron Miner (PV) 6-3, 6-0
Addie Bronson (SC) def. Raelie Madrid (Dixie) 6-0, 6-2
Erica Evans & Abbie Carmack (DH) def. Ryann Blaser & Charisse Snow (PV) 6-2, 6-4
Charlotte Apple & Addie Southam (SC) def. Annie Heaton & Ashley Stevens (Dixie) 7-5, 6-3
Tia Turley & Lyndsi Graf (DH) def. Tess Larkin & Kalli Beckstrom (Dixie) 7-5, 6-2
Olivia Obray & Katrina Hafen (PV) def. Eme Benson & Kendra Parker (SC) 6-4, 6-2
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