Maybe a second wind is all Dixie and Desert Hills tennis need going into the critical phase of Region 9 play next week.
The Flyers and Thunder both had successful days on the first day of the St. George Invitational Tennis Tournament, or Stephen Wade Invitational, against a diverse field on Friday.
Desert Hills No. 1 singles player Austin Hardy won his three singles matches against Manti, Payson and Carbon, and lost just two games in the process.
Payton Baum and Trevor Dalton, the Thunder’s No. 2 and 3 singles players, both went 2-1, suffering losses to Payson.
For the Flyers, their top three singles players, Tanner Boyer, Tanner Bekstrom and Carson Bottema, all went 2-1.
The wins came against Uintah, which traveled the farthest of all the teams to get to St. George, and Tooele.
Their losses were lopsided and came at the hands of Waterford, the three-time defending 2A state champion and the favorite to win this year’s crown.
In doubles, both the No. 1 and 2 doubles teams from Dixie and Desert Hills went 3-0, with plenty of games to spare in each match.
The 12 teams were split into three pools of four. On Saturday, players will play in either the gold, silver or bronze brackets depending on how they played Friday.
Dixie and Desert Hills both had four of their five singles and doubles players in the gold and silver brackets, where they’ll face stiff competition from Waterford and Wasatch, who both have three representatives in Saturday’s championship rounds.
The tournament, held at Tonaquint Park, has come a long way since Eric Christensen and Dow Christenson,the respective Dixie and Desert Hills coaches, started it several years ago.
Four teams came to the first tournament. One of them was Payson, which is a regular participant these days as the Lions come to both tournaments in the spring and fall.
Payson Tennis coach Karen Thompson said they supported Christensen and Christenson and felt there was always room for change, even if they were also trying to avoid ‘stepping on toes’ at first.
“We liked the idea that this was essentially going to be a fundraiser for school tennis, which is what we’re all involved with, so we were particularly enthusiastic about supporting other high school teams,” Thompson said.
She said there are a fair amount of teams that don’t have access to indoor courts and thus have to cancel matches and practice at this point in the season because of weather in central and northern Utah.
So it was a no-brainer from the very beginning to come down to St. George for two weekends in the spring, where the weather’s likely to be outstanding.
She, and Flyers coach Eric Christensen, both enjoy the tournament for another reason.
“We’re all at one venue and the coaches love being at one venue, we all get to be among each other and talk,” Christensen said.
Saturday’s championship rounds begin at 8 a.m. at Tonaquint Park.