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Holladay Journal

Olympus tennis shows consistency after state finish

Jun 30, 2023 12:59PM ● By Daniel Olsen

When the Olympus Titans started under coach Mark Allen, he was told that it would be hard for them to be competitive at the state level. After placing in the top five in his first year, they followed it up with a sixth finish this year at the UHSAA 5A Boys Tennis Championships. They were still in the upper echelon of teams at the 5A level.

“It’s inspiring to see that chip on shoulder mentality,” Allen said. “That differentiates us. We don’t think we have the most talent at the top. We are grittier and put in work 365 days a year. For my system, you have to fully commit. I come from a background of junior and collegiate level tennis.”

The coaching staff at Olympus has certainly incorporated something that has worked at those higher levels they have competed at previously. 

“Even though we dropped a few spots I would say we still improved our performance this year,” Allen said. “I know it sounds contradictory, but I think our competition improved significantly. We have built this program on sustained success and dedication to honing one’s craft. I don’t assume that when the season comes that we can come in and place in the top five. In year two we had guys playing early in the morning and late at night. Guys were going to academies in the summer. It has been a culture change. It reflects how we are able to compete with the rest of the state.”

Many memories highlight this successful season for the Titans, but a few in particular stand out for team captain Barrett Jeppsen.

“My favorite memory was probably going down to St. George, did a couple of tournaments because that was a ton of fun,” Jeppsen said. “My biggest accomplishment this year would be taking state with Isaac (Fox).”

The Olympus coaching staff was impressed with their doubles title as well.

“These two seniors achieved our goal of winning the state bracket,” Allen said. “That is the first individual Olympus tennis title in the 21st century. We’ve made significant progress at the individual level. It’s also been great to see improvement for our talent that didn’t compete at the varsity level, but made our JV teams formidable. The junior varsity came second in region. Our program is all about development of tennis in the Salt Lake area. There is significant room for growth for tennis in Utah at the high school level and beyond. I encourage family members to go out and promote tennis. On the court it’s amazing to see a team that was average refuse to be average. Growth is the ultimate goal. I think that goes at the high school and junior level and talent level and coaching side. We can all come together to promote tennis at the Salt Lake level to be on par with the other states.”

While the team has high aspirations for the future, their roster will look a bit different next year.

“We are losing a lot of top contributors,” Allen said. “Our seniors played well last year and now the next generation is ready to step up. They’ve been playing all summer individually as well as at academies. I am coaching at IMG Academy in Florida. I am improving my craft and coaching ability. We don’t want to have a drop off from losing significant contributions from the older guys who are leaving.”

While there are goals that the tennis team has for themselves, they are aiming for something bigger.

“I always emphasize our drive to encourage youth in Utah to play more tennis like you see in other regions of the country,” Allen said. “That is the big thing I am pushing as our team experiences more growth and success.”

Owen Linthorst, one of the doubles state champions for Olympus this year, had some memorable moments on his journey to the championship.

“My favorite memory about this year’s season was the Ashton Tournament that we participated in,” Linthorst said. “I was able to play No. 1 doubles with my brother Spencer and performed pretty well.”

That wasn’t his most impressive accomplishment though.

“My greatest accomplishment was in the Jordan Invitational,” Linthorst said. “I did not lose a single game and won all three matches (8-0, 8-0, 8,0) and I went on to help Olympus win the tournament.”

While it’s tough to predict the future, the coaching staff and players know what their goals are.

“Our goal is consistent top five finishes until we break through and win it all which we haven’t done since 1994,” Allen said. “Olympus tennis has the most state championships in the history of school athletics. It’s been a while since they’ve won though. To build a successful program, it starts with consistency. After winning one championship, it builds upon itself. Towards the end of the season, we had a team meeting and spoke about our bigger goals in life and were able to understand how important sports can be. When we came together and the varsity team hashed out their frustrations and things they felt great about, then we got on the same page and went into the state tournament with our best foot forward.” λ