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Draper Journal

Rico sisters leading Juan Diego tennis

Oct 10, 2019 11:18AM ● By Catherine Garrett

Juan Diego’s Ana Rico and Valeria Rico play in the two singles spots for the Soaring Eagle squad. (Photo courtesy Bob McLellan Shooting Star Photography)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

Just three returning players were back on the court for the Juan Diego Catholic High School girls tennis team this season. Sisters Ana Rico, a senior, and sophomore Valeria Rico, who was a state qualifier a year ago, are captains for the Soaring Eagle squad and along with junior Morgan Dawson have been looked to this season for veteran play.

“We’re trying to help them with technique and strategy,” said head coach Marisa Smith, who is in her second year. “With our other players, we’ve been focusing on the basics and getting better before we can move on.”

Smith said the Rico sisters, who have comparable talent and often challenge each other for the top singles spot in Juan Diego’s lineup, and Dawson have shown great leadership with the other players, all of whom are brand new to tennis.

“They have been very helpful and they look after the other girls and cheer for them during their matches,” Smith said. “We’ve been counting the small victories, like learning how to keep score. Our practice matches have forced them to learn quickly.”

So far this season, the Soaring Eagle squad struggled through pre-season play against Alta, Jordan, Mountain Ridge, Judge and Waterford. In Region 10 play, they defeated Cedar Valley 4-2 with wins from Ana and Valeria Rico at No. 1 and No.2 singles 6-0, 6-1 and 6-0, 6-0 respectively while also beating Ben Lomond 4-2 with the Rico sisters blanking the top Scots singles players 6-0, 6-0 in both matches. They have lost to Stansbury 6-0, Ogden 5-1 and Tooele 4-2.

“I have felt pretty good about the season with its ups and downs,” Ana Rico said. “I think we are doing well considering that most of our team is completely new except three returning players.”

Also on the Juan Diego team are Brianna Ahlstrom, Marissa Butkovich, Angelique Clark, Karolyna Garcia, Grace McGowen-Jackson, Kelsey Paulsen, Breanna Quigley, Kiely Rasmussen, Brooke Small, Lauren Smart, Nina Smith, Cierra Turner, Karley Viczian and Emily Werner. 

“I’m really proud of how they’ve been this season,” Smith said. “They haven’t won a lot, but they have the best attitude and are having fun.”

Smith is being assisted by Mark Hutter, a new teacher at Juan Diego, who has coached a lot of soccer in the past.

“He’s very motivating for the girls and it’s great to see,” Smith said. “He knows how to play the game.”

Juan Diego will face Uintah to close out the regular season before the region tournament Sept. 25–26 and the 4A state championships Oct. 4–5 at Liberty Park.