Doubles teams helping Juan Diego girls tennisOct 05, 2020 02:17PM ● By Catherine Garrett
Juan Diego’s Cierra Turner and Emily Werner play in the No. 2 doubles spot for the Soaring Eagle tennis program. (Photo courtesy Cierra Turner)
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
“Improvement and consistency” have been the keys for the Juan Diego Catholic High School girls tennis team this season and much of that has come from the two doubles teams, according to new head coach Mark Hutter. The No. 1 doubles team of Brooke Small and Morgan Dawson and the duo of Cierra Turner and Emily Werner, who play at No. 2 doubles, have lost only once in region competition so far this season.
The Soaring Eagle’s top two singles players—sisters Ana and Valeria Rico—are also working hard to secure spots in the 4A state tournament Oct. 2-3 at Liberty Park.
Brooke is in just her second year of playing tennis as she and Morgan have teamed up this season to top the doubles lineup.
A “breakthrough match” for the duo was against Ogden Sept. 1 when they came back from being down a set to win a three-hour contest in a tiebreaker. “It was a match full of sweat, frustration, excitement and sassiness,” Brooke said.
“They have never played together until this year and they are absolutely killing it,” Cierra said.
“I think once both our doubles teams figured out how to work with each other and hype each other up we got on a roll,” Brooke said. “We really communicate on the court well and learn how to practically move as one.”
Morgan attributes their success this season to the complementary roles they each play within their partnership. “We are opposites when on the court, so when we play together it works out because if one of us is good at one thing, then the other is better at another thing,” Morgan said. “Playing with her has been the best experience because we both encourage each other to do our best. Most of our success is within the two of us and the support we give each other.”
The second-year duo of best friends Cierra/Emily is playing No. 2 doubles this season after a year of struggles at the top spot last season.
“We have really improved from last year,” Cierra said, of their increased efforts of conditioning and court time this summer. “Our chemistry and our placement in the doubles lineup has played a big role in our success. We have each other’s back during the entire match. We know how to cheer the other one up if we ever get down on ourselves for a mistake we made.”
A highlight so far this season for the duo is avenging a third-set loss from last year against Cedar Valley in coming back from losing the first set this year to the same team and winning a tie-breaker in the second set before going on to win 6-1 in the third.
“This match I think really shows how well we are growing and getting better,” Cierra said. “My partner Emily has improved so much, like in her serve, that it makes me want to improve.”
“We learn a lot from each other and push each other to do better,” Emily said. “Our success is all because of our love for the team and sport.”
The Juan Diego program has added more players this season, nearly doubling the size of their team, and Hutter attributes that to Small, Turner, Werner and Ana Rico’s welcoming nature to fellow students. “These seniors have created an environment and a culture that invites and includes new players and players new to tennis,” Hutter said.
“Having a lot more people makes the playing environment more fun, competitive and enjoyable,” Ana Rico said.
A turning point for Juan Diego this season was its Sept. 2 match against Skyline. “Skyline has a huge tennis program and we got crushed,” Emily said. “I think it really opened our eyes to the reality of what hard work accomplishes. After that, our intensity increased at practice because we all want to succeed.” Hutter has been stressing that dedication in order to be more competitive within Region 10.
“We have such a great team dynamic this year and all are so close,” Emily said. “At practice, we have so much fun while still working hard.”
Also on the Soaring Eagle varsity squad this season are Abbie Nelson, Kelsey Poulsen, Lauren Smart and Nina Smith. The JV team consists of Jazmin Asmar, Hannah Bradshaw, Joyce Cutler, Teryn Easterbrook, Avery Johnston, Melissa Malanga, Piper Maxwell, Andrea Moreno, Bea Pascal, Grace Porter, Allie Sanchez, Kaymin Sommer, Emily Stoback, Tracy Tan, Vanessa Zavala and Lisa Zhu.