Murray Spartan’s Girls TennisOct 08, 2015 11:38AM ● By Bryan Scott
Senior Savannah Frank and sophomore Sidnee Lavati practice singles.
By Sarah Almond
It’s just weeks into their season, and already the Murray High School girls tennis team is showing promise that head coach Crystal Spackman hasn’t seen in the past few years. The team’s only loss came against rival Olympus High School during their first regional match on August 25.
“We are really coming together as a team this year,” Coach Spackman said. “Our team bonding is excellent.”
Through team dinners, team sleepovers and other bonding activities, the team of young, new players is building relationships and thoroughly molding as a team – something that many of the girls attribute to their early success on the courts.
“This season is going good, it’s been awesome,” freshman Amelia Kessler said. “When we are better together, we win better and we communicate and work better as a unit.”
The group of 24 girls is largely comprised of sophomores and juniors, with only six freshmen and three seniors rounding out the team.
“Having a solid group of sophomores and juniors has helped to blend the team and encouraged them to compete against each other to become better,” Coach Spackman said.
The influx of underclassmen over the past couple years has both challenged and inspired older girls to push themselves. Senior Abby Laver is a testimony to this.
“She worked really hard – I mean really hard,” Coach Spackman said, when talking about Laver. “Her first year she was on the varsity team, but the next year new girls came in and she wasn’t. But she has worked so hard to get herself back up in the top.”
Laver and her doubles partner, Abby Mitchel – commonly known together as “The Abbys” - have had some fantastic matches.
With players like Laver and other nationally-ranked players and state-title holders heading the team, Coach Spackman feels the leadership of the group this year is outstanding.
Senior Savannah Frank, a state-title holder in number-three singles, and sophomore Sidnee Lavati, a nationally-ranked player, both represented Murray High School in the 2014 4A State Championships last year, where they clenched a third place win for the Spartans.
Coach Spackman attributes much of the team’s success this year, and in years past, to the Murray community. For the first time in Murray tennis history, the Spartans have their own courts to play on.
Last year, Coach Spackman completed a capstone project for her administration degree at Southern Utah University. For her project, she took on the monumental task of garnering funds and development assistance to build MHS their very own tennis courts.
“I looked at the school and I looked at the needs - and I needed tennis courts,” Coach Spackman said.
With building funding from Murray resident and friend Kathleen Sorenson, Coach Spackman wrote up a grant to present to the city. The Sorenson’s funded $250,000 toward the project, which was matched by the school district and approved by the board, for a grand total of $500,000. Murray City provided professional lighting for the courts, and finally the Spartans had their own place to play and practice.
“It’s a community effort and these are community courts. We don’t lock them up and they are available for the community to use,” Coach Spackman said.
The Spartans broke in their new courts with a home match against longtime rival Skyline High School on Tuesday, Sept. 5. The state tournament will be held Thursday, Oct. 8 and Saturday, Oct. 10 at Liberty Park, 600 East 900 South in Salt Lake City.