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The City Journals

In first year of tennis, JDCHS player takes state runner-up

Nov 22, 2021 10:47AM ● By Catherine Garrett

Juan Diego senior Rachel Strelow placed second at the 3A state tennis tournament Oct. 9 at Liberty Park. (Photos courtesy Rachel Strelow)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

Juan Diego Catholic High School senior Rachel Strelow, in her first year of playing tennis, finished as the runner-up at No. 3 singles, in the 3A state tennis championships Oct. 9 at Liberty Park.

“It’s so crazy, I was just wanting to have fun with my friends this year and wasn’t even expecting to win any matches,” she said. “But, to finish second in state feels like such a big accomplishment. The support of my teammates and family was also so amazing.”

In the first round, Strelow defeated South Summit’s Kathryn Froerer 6-1, 6-0 and then Manti’s Emily Allen 6-3, 6-4. In the semifinal round, she beat Grantsville’s Audrey Curtis 6-2, 6-4 and then lost to Carbon’s Lieke Verweij 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match.

“I felt nervous at state because I didn’t how the other girls were playing, so I just tried to get every ball back,” she said. “Then, I watched what my opponents were doing and tried to strategize how to play them.”

The daughter of Eric and Cathy Strelow of Draper only lost won match during the regular season at the third singles spot in the lineup—on her way to the Region 15 title at that spot. She avenged that one straight-set loss in the semifinal round, against Waterford’s Delaney Huefner, when she beat the junior 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 to advance to the finals where she beat Maeser Prep’s Mia Parkinson 6-3, 6-4.

Strelow was introduced to tennis during elementary school but hadn’t picked up a racket since fifth grade and instead focused on other sports like volleyball and lacrosse. She traded the volleyball court this fall for an outside court. “I like that it’s an individual sport and it’s all on you,” she said. “Going into the season, I didn’t expect much, but thought that I could do this. I knew that I would be able to at least try to go after every ball and then I just improved a lot throughout the season and was able to be more consistent.”

The senior also credited JDCHS coach Rod Horton for his influence on her play this season. “He has great advice that helped me win a lot of key matches,” she said. “He is also so patient with everyone on the team.”

“She just has that ‘want to win’ attitude and is willing to listen and learn and is very coachable,” Horton said. “She was a pleasure to coach.”

At the 3A state tournament, Strelow’s finish helped Juan Diego to a seventh-place showing as a team. Also competing at state for the Soaring Eagle program were Abbie Nelson, who played at No. 2 singles and defeated Union’s Eliza Beales 6-0, 6-2 before losing to Grantsville’s Lacy Linares 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinal round. 

Valeria Rico lost to Carbon’s Lindsey Snow 6-3, 6-3 in the first round at No. 1 singles.

So, Strelow switched to tennis to start her senior year having some fun. “And, now, tennis is even more fun,” she said.