By Chuch Nichols
Photos by Kurt Johnson
In addition to being an amazing individual tennis player, Lone Peak’s Leah Heimuli is also a fantastic team leader. During her senior season of high school tennis, the Knights were undefeated in the regular season, continuing an 80-match winning streak in region competition. Lone Peak also won the state title for the third time in four years.
After losing in the state semifinals as a sophomore and then in the first singles title match her junior season to talented Davis star Breezy Turley, Heimuli had high hopes in 2015. But something unexpected happened at the state tournament – Heimuli lost in the No.1 singles final, this time to Turley’s younger sister, Whitney, who is the Lone Peak star’s doubles partner at some USTA events. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Lone Peak senior.
“After state I was honestly really crushed and disappointed in myself,” Heimuli said. “I’m hoping that this experience–I will be able to look back on it as a stepping stone to further my career in tennis. So I can see it as a learning of what to work on and improve instead of something that I’m depressed about.”
Leah was born the oldest of five children to parents that had a lot of things planned out in advance with regard to their children’s athletic pursuits. Her parents decided before each child was born that each of their children would play a different sport and that whatever that sport was, it would be the one that particular child would work at to become the best they could.
“They chose tennis (for me) because of the factor that you are all on your own and that you decide the outcome whether you win or lose,” Heimuli said. “You don’t have any teammates to depend on.”
Heimuli played other sports while growing up, but she decided to take tennis seriously around the young age of seven. From that point on tennis was Heimuli’s athletic focus.
As the high school tennis season has now ended, Heimuli is extremely optimistic about its outcome and proud of her teammates for the things that they have achieved. And now, rather than focusing on her individual loss, Heimuli feels down mostly because of her realization that this would be her final season with her Lone Peak teammates. She looked at this last season as an opportunity to be a leader to the younger girls of the team.
Besides tennis, Heimuli, like any other student spends time on homework and helps take care of the younger members of her family. In her rare moments of free time, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, just being outside, and has a avid passion for reading. Her goals besides tennis are to go to college and graduate with a major in the social sciences, such as psychology.
Heimuli may have lost the state final, but as she looks towards the future, there is brightness ahead. Leah Heimuli is still walking through the halls of Lone Peak High from 6 a.m. to the fourth period ending bell.
And after school, she’s still at the tennis courts where she has worked for years to get to where she is now. The No. 1 singles player at Lone Peak and a three-time Utah state champion looks ahead to achieve more as she prepares for a collegiate career.