The T-Birds graduated three of its four doubles players from last year, but Sperry said finding replacements won’t be tough.
“Our JV team is exceptionally strong, and that’s the good news when you graduate a bunch of players,” he said.
Josh Harrison won a state title at second doubles last year, and he’s actually the only senior on Timpview’s team this season.
Even though Pearce is the clear favorite at first singles, there’s certainly some talent to challenge him. Skyline’s Michael Polak, a foreign exchange student, has looked very strong, while Highland’s Jahoon Noh, Bonneville’s Parker Jones and Mountain View’s Jonathan Dollahite are all strong players.
Last season, four points is all that separated first place from fourth place at the 3A state tournament.
This season though, everybody but Juan Diego might be chasing second place.
Already this season Juan Diego beat defending state champion Park City 5-0 and last year’s runner-up, Desert Hills, 3-2.
“I think we’re one of the strongest teams in the state all divisions,” said Juan Diego coach Arthur Miyazaki, whose school has never won a state boys tennis title.
Just like the Tullis brothers in 5A, the Kempin brothers in 3A are why the Soaring Eagle are obvious state title favorites.
Junior Brendan Kempin is the defending state champion at first singles, while his freshman brother Ryan Kempin, is the top-ranked 14 year old in Utah.
Ryan Kempin’s arrival not only strengthens Juan Diego at second singles, but third singles, too. Brenton Reyner was a semifinalist at second singles last year, but this year he’ll compete in third singles.
The trio is good enough to sweep the 3A singles titles.
Juan Diego’s doubles teams are improved as well, but Desert Hills has perhaps the top doubles teams in Utah. The Thunder swept the doubles titles at state last year, and Mason Ford and Christian Davis are back at first doubles and Preston Parmenter returns at second doubles.
Desert Hills coach Dow Christensen, whose teams won titles in 2010 and 2011, expects the Thunder to be competitive again.
“We’re definitely much stronger this year than last year since we really didn’t lose anyone,” he said.
Manti ended Rowland Hall’s five-year run atop 2A tennis last year, but Rowland Hall coach Tim Sleeper is hoping the experience gained last year and depth will get his team back to the top of the 2A podium.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve got an outstanding player at top of squad like we usually do, but we’re deep. It should be interesting,” said Sleeper.
Rowland Hall returns five of its seven state tournament contributors from last year, while state champ Manti returns just two of seven.
Bryce Baker is Rowland Hall’s only individual returning champ at second singles, but he’ll compete at first singles this year.
“Bryce is an awesome mental athlete. He beats a lot of players who are better and who have more experience and who are older, and he beats them because he’s really good at keeping his composure,” said Sleeper.
Rowland Hall’s Matt Zubair was a runner-up at third singles last year, but he’ll be competing at second singles this season.
Waterford’s Jay T Anderson won last year’s title at first singles, and the senior is the clear favorite to repeat again this year.
Manti’s only returning contributors from last year’s state title time are Logan Lund at third singles and Jeremy Anderson at first doubles. Sleeper, however, said there’s too much tradition with Manti tennis not to expect the Templars to just reload to make a run at another title.
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