The Riverton High School girls tennis team wasn’t feeling the love at this year’s state championship. The entire team qualified to compete in the 5A Girl’s Tennis State Championship, held at Liberty Park Oct. 9 and 11, but only Nicole Barrett and Gaby Didier made it past the first round.
“We didn’t do as well as we wanted to,” said Ryan Nelson, head coach. “We did really well in state and our record has improved from last year, but our expectations were a little higher. We didn’t play to our full potential.”
Barrett and Didier defeated Sydnee Visser and Melissa Shirley of Northridge High School in the second doubles first round match, but lost in the second round to Katie Jensen and Emalia Steele of Skyline High School. Andrea Mena and Stephanie Emch competed in the first doubles, Maya Yerman competed in the first singles, Bailey Rosewood competed in the second singles and Melissa Brewster competed in the third singles but none of them moved on to the second round.
“This year I did a lot of mental exercises [with the team]. I wanted to get them thinking about how they handle the pressure, how they handle the big points, how they prepare, what do they think about?” Nelson said. “I want them to be good skill-wise, but also mentally strong. We have some girls that just go into tennis tournaments to play tennis; they don’t really know what they’re going to do to bring home the ‘W,’ to bring home the win.”
Next year, Nelson plans to continue focusing on the mental aspects of the sport as well as encouraging the girls to compete in the offseason. “I asked the girls, ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’ Some of them had never thought about that before. It got them thinking, ‘What is my plan and how am I going to accomplish it?’”
Nelson played tennis for the Olympus High School boys team and has been a coach at Riverton for three years.