Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The best boys tennis players in Class 2A battled and battled at Liberty Park on Saturday to decide the individual and team champions in their classification.
At the end of it all, two schools — Waterford and Rowland Hall — stood neck and neck.
Waterford, led by Jay T. Anderson, and Rowland Hall were named co-champions after the two schools finished in a tie.
"No shame at all," said Waterford boys tennis coach Ken Wade, whose team won its first title in six years. "Rowland Hall's been great for a long time, and it doesn't feel bad at all to share it with them."
The Ravens rode the momentum of winning their region meet a week earlier by sending four teams into the championship round Saturday.
Waterford lost any chance of a sweep after eventual champions Curtis Jeffery and Wyatt Peterson of Richfield eliminated the Ravens' second doubles team. The sophomore duo of Jeffery and Peterson outlasted Manti teammates Eric Lee and Davis Hardy, 6-2, 6-2, in the title match.
Waterford was assured a first-place finish when freshman Quinn Pritchett handed Rowland Hall senior Matthew Zubair a 6-3, 6-3 defeat in No. 2 singles. From that point on, Rowland Hall was left with one option — win out or finish second.
Aaron Friedman was nearly perfect during his three matches Saturday afternoon, and he brought Rowland Hall within three points of the Ravens after defeating Waterford sophomore Christian Heath, 6-0, 6-2.
To claim sole possession of the team title, Waterford freshmen George Matus and Max Gruber needed to best Rowland Hall pair Jonathon Zubair and Karim Shaaban in the final match of the afternoon in first doubles. The Winged Lions, on the outside looking in, were in a must-win situation.
In what proved to be the match of the tournament, Zubair and Shaaban survived a three-set showdown, 6-7, 6-1, 6-1, to clinch a share of first place for Rowland Hall.
"During the first set we were stressed out," said an ecstatic Shaaban. "After losing that first set, it really was amazing to pull out a win."
The junior also gave praise to his teammate, who was the emotional leader of the duo in the title match.
"(Jonathon) really pumped me up the entire time," said Shaaban. "Without him I don't think we could have won. It was a perfect way to end a year."
It wasn't an ideal finish for Waterford, but coach Wade was perfectly content with his team's performance Saturday.
"The main thing was to play confident and relaxed — especially with all the new kids who haven't experienced the environment," said Wade. "I was really pleased with everyone's performance across the board. Everybody played loose; everybody played strong tennis all day long."
Waterford senior Anderson capped off Saturday with his second-consecutive first singles title, and was Wade's go-to-guy for a guaranteed five points.
"Jay T. is just so solid," said Wade. "We get those five points and we feel confident about that. It makes everyone else swing a little bit freer knowing that we've got those (points)."
Looking ahead, the Ravens could be poised to reign at the top of 2A tennis, given the artillery of underclassmen at coach Wade's fingertips. Until then Rowland Hall and Waterford will share this year's 2A boys tennis title.
"We've got a bunch of ninth-graders, so I'm hoping this starts their taste for state tournament and we can keep it rolling next year," said Wade.