SALT LAKE CITY — The Judge Memorial Catholic High School girls tennis team had a great 2018 season, taking the 3A state championship in September. On the heels of that victory comes another honor: The team was named the 2018 USTA/Utah Tennis High School Team of the Year.
While 89 schools play in four divisions in Utah girls tennis, just one is chosen as High School Team of the Year. With 592 students, Judge, which plays in the 3A division, is one of the smaller schools in the state. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs and their coaches are noted across the Utah high school sports world for their sportsmanship.
“We were so impressed with the girls and their coaches, and they had an amazing season,” USTA/Utah Tennis Executive Director Laurie Lambert said. “We look forward to honoring them at our banquet.”
The title and trophy are awarded based on the sportsmanship of the team and how it did during the season, Lambert said. An awards committee reviews nominations submitted by players, parents and coaches, along with its own committee member nominations, and determines which team most deserves the award.
“We are incredibly honored to have Utah Tennis recognize our little program over at Judge,” coach Tracey Valentine said. “We always strive to have our girls be as nice as they can be and to try to be an advocate for the reputation of the team, Judge, the Catholic community and tennis players in general.”
“We just have 37 amazing girls on our team and they each bring a unique gift to the team; it is so easy to coach them,” she said. “Of our team members, half have not even played tennis prior to high school so we emphasize sportsmanship, kindness and supporting each other as much as we do forehands and backhands. There’s just so many more important things in life than tennis.”
Judge Principal Patrick Lambert said he is very proud of the team for receiving this honor.
“It has been an absolute joy to cheer on our girls’ tennis team,” he said. “They are incredibly supportive of each other and fiercely competitive. Coach Valentine and Coach Brightwell are transformative coaches that bring out the best in their players. The team represents our school in the very best way.”
The team took first place in 3A state tennis this season after strong performances at state by both singles and doubles players. At the end of the state championship, with singles state champions Katherine McPhail and Olivia Anderson and Hannah Gosse and Janne Bredehoeft as No. 2 doubles winners, Judge finished nine points ahead of its nearest competitors Morgan and Waterford.
Valentine is assisted by Christie Brightwell and Karl Ward. While officially she is the head coach, Valentine said the three are really co-coaches.
The team will receive its trophy and be honored at the 2018 USTA/Utah Tennis annual banquet “Celebrating Tennis in Utah” at Gardner Village in West Jordan on Jan. 31.