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Cottonwood Heights Journal

BHS Girls Tennis: Finding Passion and Friendships in a Lifetime Sport

Aug 22, 2016 01:23PM ● By Sarah Almond

The Brighton High School girl’s tennis team poses for a photo during a hot afternoon practice. Though more than 30 girls tried out of the team on Aug. 1, Head Coach Natalie Meyer selected just 23 to make the team.—Sarah Almond

By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Aug. 1 was a big day for division 5A high schools sports. This special day marked the official start of the girls tennis season with new and seasoned players attending team tryouts across the valley in hopes of making the cut. At the Brighton tennis courts in Cottonwood Heights, this day was no different.
“I had more than 30 girls show up for tryouts this year,” Head Coach Natalie Meyer said. “We ended up taking 23, but knowing that the interest is out there and that there will be seven players ready to join the team next year is pretty great.”
Meyer, who has coached Brighton High School’s tennis programs for 13 years, is excited about this season’s roster.
“Twenty-three is a great number,” Meyer said. “We’ve got a lot of returners and several new players.”
Though the Bengals graduated six key seniors last year, the team has filled the void by welcoming back 16 returning players and introducing seven new members to the team, two of whom are freshman.
“We have nine seniors on the team,” Meyer said. “So we definitely have an older group this year.”
Though Meyer elected just one of the nine seniors to be named team captain, she is adamant about each upperclassman stepping up and setting a good example for the group’s new, younger players.
“Sarah Fackrell is our team captain, but even though she has a title I want all of my seniors to have a job,” Meyer said. “I want to focus on senior leadership this year and I really want to stress that this year is about the seniors; it’s their team, they have been on it for years and I want them to be in charge. I make the coaching decisions but I want them all to be involved in the leadership opportunities.”
By encouraging the senior group to take charge of leadership decisions, Meyer believes the entire team benefits. Not only does it allow each player’s personality to shine, but it also instills a greater sense of accountability throughout the team’s culture.
“The girls have responded really, really well,” Meyer said. “I’ve seen them become more competitive both personally and in their game.”
Following tryouts, Meyer addressed the team about her expectations for the season. Along with keeping a grade point average of 2.0 or higher, Meyer expects the players to conduct themselves as representatives of the Bengal tennis program both on and off the courts, and in and out of the classroom.
“I’ve also talked with the girls about what they expect this season,” Meyer said. “They took first in region last year — are we going to try and repeat and get that title again? Is it possible for us to get that title again?”
While Meyer believes the Bengals are capable of defending their region title, she says that the dedication and hard work will have to come from the players. So far, the team is off to a strong preseason start.
“We beat Bingham 4-1 on August 9 and they were our main competition last year,” Meyer said. “But Jordan is always a really tough team and we’ll have to play them first to know where we stand, but right now it’s looking pretty promising.”
As with most sports, winning matches is important to the Bengals tennis team. More than anything though, Meyer hopes these Brighton players will leave the program with the skills to play a lifetime sport and the connections of lifelong friendships.
“I’ve set of all of these expectations, and big standards and all of these things, but most of all tennis is about creating relationships and friendships with each other,” Meyer said.
For the players, establishing lifelong relationships and cultivating valuable friendships is one of the most unique aspects of the Brighton tennis program.
“I met my best friend on the tennis team last year,” senior captain Sarah Fackrell said. “And I almost tried out for soccer this year, but I just missed the atmosphere of tennis. It’s the girls on this team that really make tennis fun.”
The Bengals will play to defend their championship title at the Region III Tournament on Sept. 28-29 at the Brighton High School tennis courts. The courts are located at 2433 Bengal Boulevard in Cottonwood Heights.