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Girls Tennis Ends Challenging Season as State 3A Champs

By Rich Francey, Head Coach

The 2023 girls tennis season was one of the most challenging we have had in a long time. We were faced with every negative occurrence possible, and yet the team stuck together and figured out how to win. And win they did—both a region championship as well as a state title!
The season started with Winged Lion tennis moving into a new 3A region that was composed mostly of northern schools. The team had many long bus rides, a new experience for them. Before we started our region matches, we played a myriad of 3A, 4A, 5A, and 6A schools, and rolled into the region season undefeated. The team absolutely dominated, as the only matches we lost were by forfeit when one or more of our players had to default with an injury or sickness, thus earning us the region title.

Losing four players from last year’s team due to families moving away from the area, we were only 12 strong this season. With such a small roster of players, things got a bit challenging mid-season. Jane Borst, our #2 Singles player, was the first casualty when she suffered a serious hand injury that left her sidelined for over two weeks. Elena Owens was playing #3 Singles, and was then moved up to #2, and went undefeated in five matches. That created a need for another player from the junior varsity team to move into the varsity lineup. We were dealt another injury when Marina Peng suffered a concussion and was sidelined for almost three weeks. That moved Nadia Scharfstein into a starting varsity role until Jane returned playing #2 Doubles. That lineup was working well until Izzy Bown went down in her region finals match with a dislocated shoulder.

With Izzy out, we had to shuffle the lineup yet once again. For state, we moved Jane back to #2 Singles and Elena back to #3 Singles. Nadia was moved back to #2 Doubles to partner with Elle Prasthofer. At this point, we had decided to letter all players, including Maddie Mulford, Izzy Utgaard, and Mackenzie Boyer. We had a team that we were hoping would stay healthy through the state tournament.

At state, our #1 Singles player and captain, Sophie Baker, blew through the field, losing only a couple of games en route to an individual state title, and ending a remarkable two-year career at Rowland Hall as she repeated as state 3A champion at the position. Elena Owens also made a clean sweep at state and won an individual state championship at #3 Singles. Frances Hodson and Ainsley Moore also had a terrific season and took state at #1 Doubles, capping an undefeated season for them. Our #2 Doubles team of Elle Prasthofer and Nadia Scharfstein lost in the third round at state, but still earned some crucial team points. Last but not least, Jane Borst advanced to the finals at #2 Singles, even after re-injuring her hand in the semifinals. She played valiantly in the finals and won the first set; however, the pain in her hand was too great, and so we made the decision to default her, and she earned second place at her position.
Thanks need to go to Susan Daynes and Jason Boe, who did a magnificent job as part of the coaching staff. Congratulations also to Marina Peng, who recovered and won our annual JV tournament.

The season officially ended a few weeks after state with a wonderful banquet hosted by the Hodson family. At this celebration, each team member was given a hoodie sweatshirt donated by the Borst family. Awards were announced as follows: 

  • Captain Award: Sophie Baker
  • MVP: Sophie Baker, Elena Owens, Frances Hodson, and Ainsley Moore
  • Coaches’ Award: Nadia Scharfstein
  • Most Courageous Player: Jane Borst
  • Most Improved Player: Izzy Bown

We were also excited to announce that three of our seniors, Sophie Baker, Marina Peng, and Nadia Scharfstein—earned Academic All-Region and Utah High School Activities Association Academic All-State honors.

In the end, it was a challenging but very rewarding season. Congratulations, team!