Tom Smart, Deseret News
Juan Diego knows better than anyone the dangers of being overconfident ahead of this weekend’s 3A state tennis tournament in St. George.
A year ago the Soaring Eagle were the slight favorite in a balanced 3A tourney field, yet stumbled to a fourth-place finish behind Park City, Desert Hills and Dixie.
With the clear favorites at No. 1, 2 and 3 singles this season, it would take a massive stumble for Juan Diego to be kept off the top podium.
“My No. 1, 2 and 3 are all undefeated, so we’re pretty optimistic that our chances are as good as anybody,” said Juan Diego coach Arthur Miyazaki.
Just like the Tullis boys led Viewmont to a state title in 5A last week, the Kempin brothers are poised to do the same for Juan Diego this week.
First singles star Brendan Kempin is the top-ranked U-18 player in the entire Intermountain Region, and the junior is the clear favorite to repeat as a state champ.
His little brother Ryan Kempin is just a freshman, but he’s one of the top-ranked U-16 players in the Intermountain Region and is the clear favorite at second singles.
The third singles spot is where Juan Diego has a leg up on the rest of 3A. Brenton Reyner was a semifinalist at second singles as a sophomore last year, but the younger Kempin’s arrival bumped him to third singles this season, and he’s undefeated at 8-0 and is the clear favorite at state.
As good as the trio is, Miyazaki said none of them can afford to take anything for granted.
“You never know what can happen in the singles, even though my three singles players are undefeated. Everyone is coming after them and playing their best,” said Miyazaki.
Mathematically, simply winning the three singles events doesn’t guarantee a team a state title if the doubles teams don’t contribute points, but with the way the pairings shook out this year, it probably would assure Juan Diego of winning the team title.
While the Soaring Eagle are favored in all three singles, Desert Hills’ doubles teams of Mason Ford and Christian Davis and then Preston Parmenter and Ryan McGinnis are the clear favorites at first and second doubles respectively.
Sweeping the doubles would guarantee the Thunder 12 team points, but making up the difference on Juan Diego’s singles teams is going to be extremely difficult.
All three Desert Hills singles players are all on the same side of the bracket as Juan Diego, which means one of the three would need to upset one of Juan Diego’s undefeated players in either the quarterfinals or semifinals to have a chance.
Based on last year, Miyazaki will stress with his players that anything can happen, and to take nothing for granted.
3A State Tournament
Friday’s First round
Braden Sandberg, Grantsville vs. Kyle Barnett, Judge
Nick Chingas, Spanish Fork vs. Shayden Henton, Hurricane
Tevan Balian, Dixie vs. Tanner Castro, Morgan
Scott Niederhauser, Wasatch vs. Julio Arroyave, Tooele
Will Bensen, Snow Canyon vs. Dustin Allred, North Sanpete
Brendan Kempin, Juan Diego vs. Logan McBride, Stansbury
Dallen Whitehead, Ogden vs. Matt Groy, Park City
Adam Pullan, Payson vs. Clay Hardy, Desert Hills
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