Alta Freshman Takes Tennis Title
Nov 06, 2015 10:48AM, Published by Ron Bevan, Categories: Sports
By Ron Bevan
Sandy - Her game belies her youth. Her poise suggests a veteran.
But when 14-year-old Emilee Astle smashes her first serve and follows it with pounding ground strokes it is easy to mistake her for a seasoned senior.
Astle, just a freshman on the Alta girls tennis team captured the State 4A number one singles tennis title at Liberty Park Oct. 10. She did it winning all state playoff matches in straight sets.
“I was comfortable out there because of my training and my coaching,” Astle said. “I just entered each match looking to do my best.”
Although Astle shows such maturity and confidence on the court, she shows her age in her humbleness when off the court. It took her parents, Alan and Laura Astle of Sandy, to fill in some of the blanks of how she approached the state tourney.
“Emilee had a goal going in that she wanted to win the state title,” Alan Astle said. “She knew it was pretty lofty, but she wanted to shoot high and then just do her best.”
Astle is the youngest of four children in the Astle family, but the first to pick up competitive tennis. But athletic competition is no stranger to the Astle family; Alan played basketball for BYU and two of her older sisters played softball.
Although the family has always played tennis for fun, it was piano lessons that pushed Astle toward the sport.
“My piano teacher had two daughters that play college tennis,” she said. “They taught me how to play and got me into tournaments.”
Astle began playing competitions in fifth grade and said she loved the excitement of the tournaments. As her abilities grew, so did her reputation in Utah. Prior to beginning school at Alta, Astle had reached the number one ranking in Utah for girls under 16 by the United States Tennis Association.
She quickly grabbed the number one singles slot for the Hawks and led the team all season with an undefeated record throughout the pre season and all region matches.
“Astle easily became the leader of our team because she is so team oriented,” Alta tennis coach Camille Baird said. “She wants the team to succeed, not just herself.”
She began the state title quest with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Hillcrest’s Jessica Rimmasch, then beat Maple Mountain’s Caroline Hickey with the same score. That set up a semifinal match with Skyline’s Veronika Polokova.
“My semifinal match was a very good match,” Astle said. “We both played hard and the game had a lot of pace. She is a foreign exchange student from Eastern Europe and played like you see others from that area play.”
Still, Astle took a 6-0, 6-3 victory to reach the finals. Waiting for her was a familiar face, Megan Austin of Timpview. Astle had faced Austin twice this season and handed Austin her only losses.
“We had two close matches already and I knew I had to play my best game to beat her,” Astle said.
Astle took the match and the title in straight sets of 6-2, 6-3.
“She played two different styles of players in the semifinal and final matches,” Baird said. “The reason she is champion is because she is able to adapt her game from one type of opponent to another, from one who is a hard hitter to one who is able to move the ball around the court a lot. She reads the ball and her opponents well.”