On the last day of the state tournament at Liberty Park Tennis Center, the Bingham Miners started the day in 3rd place with three girls fighting for the championship. As juniors Avery Pack, Jacey Robins and Kaitlyn Oniki pulled their rackets out of their bag to warm up, you could feel the excitement in the air. Having won in the previous two rounds on Thursday, the Miner girls had earned the right to be counted with the remaining top players in the tournament and play in the semifinal match, just one match a way from the championship and possibly move their team up in the team scoring.
Pack was called out first. Playing at the 2nd singles position and as the #1 seed from Region 3, Avery drew the top seeded player from region 4 Lucy Droubay of Skyridge High School. Both were juniors with lots of match play experience though this was Avery’s first time to play in the Utah championship as she spent her first year of high school playing in California. Lucy started quick firing on all cylinders right from the start and jumping off to a big lead. Avery struggled a bit with her serve and felt a little tight but hung tough and was in every game but dropped the first set 0-6.
Avery was still confident though as she knew she was right there in every point and just needed to find a way to extend the points a little longer. She started the 2nd set out strong posting her 1st and 2nd game of the match to take a 2-0 lead and putting some pressure on the Skyridge opponent. Avery worked the points with a variety of shots moving her opponent forward and back as she hit her spots with pinpoint accuracy. Play elevated from both players with long rallies causing lots of cheers from the excited spectators. Avery’s attitude has always been, if the ball comes over to her side of the court, she has got to find a way to get to it and that she did on many occasion seemingly gliding across the court to track down balls that her opponent thought were far out of her reach not only to just get to the ball but to return it extending the point with slice forehands and finishing off with accurate passing shots. As Avery used her physical conditioning to extend the length of the points it appeared the Skyridge player was wearing down as she began to make some errors allowing Avery to move her lead to 5-4. With a short rest at the changeover, the Skyridge player came out and played very well hitting deep balls that landed on the base line, taking the next three games to win 7-5 and bouncing Avery out of the tournament. Avery tied for 3rd place which is a great accomplishment in a field of talented players. Her opponent went on to win the championship match in the next round.
At 2nd Doubles, the #1 seeded players from Region 3, Bingham’s Jacey Robins and Kaitlyn Oniki were also playing in the semifinal match against a Lone Peak team that was also the #1 seeded players from Region 4. The Bingham pair had also earned the chance to play on the 2nd day with strong matches in the first two rounds and were excited for the opportunity to possibly play for the championship. Though this was their first time playing at the state tournament, they played as if they were seasoned players, playing with extreme confidence as they quickly took a 2-0 lead against the Lone Peak team seemingly playing as if they had no nervousness at all. They led the entire first set hitting precision ground strokes cross court and putting shots away at the net. Their serving was strong and consistent which helped them maintain their lead. Leading 5-4 the Miners couldn’t quite close it out due to strong play from their opponents and found themselves heading in to a tiebreaker. Things didn’t go too well for the Miners in the tiebreaker and they ended up losing 4-7 in the tiebreaker to drop the first set 6-7.
In the 2nd set, their opponents got even more aggressive at the net but were neutralized for a time by great ground strokes down the line from the Miner pair. In the end, the net play of their opponents was too much to handle and the Miners lost the 2nd set 1-6 ending their chance to play in the finals and finishing tied for 3rd in the state. Their opponents went on to win the championship. To make it to the 2nd day and play in the semi final match losing to the future champion is a great accomplishment for any players but doing that in your first appearance is amazing!
The Miners as a team finished in 7th place completing another very great year. Only losing 3 varsity players to graduation next year, the Miners look to continue their success in both region and state play. The Miners are a deep team and giving that these girls all have another year to play with younger girls also coming up, next year should be a good one. Congratulations Miners!