SALT LAKE CITY — Juan Diego stood alone at the top of the table with 10 points after the first day of the boys state tennis meet — giving fuel to predictions that the Soaring Eagle will repeat as champions this weekend.
Led by senior Brendan Kempin in first singles, Juan Diego managed to send players into the semifinals in all five brackets of the tournament.
Kempin was nearly perfect on the afternoon, finishing 6-1, 6-0 to Canyon View's Derek Dunnell and following that up with a 6-0, 6-1 defeat over Cedar senior Zac Coonen.
"I'd love to win the state title of course, but more importantly it would be awesome if Juan Diego could sweep at every position," said Kempin, who could walk away with a third consecutive singles title if all goes his way.
Tevan Balian was perfect on the afternoon with four straight set victories. Last year's runner-up in first singles, Balian will have to best TJ Mayo from Park City in semifinal action to earn a spot in the title match.
A rematch of last year's second singles title clash will pit Dixie junior Micah Alba and Juan Diego sophomore Ryan Kempin against each other to open semifinal play. Kempin handily defeat Alba in a 6-0, 6-0 sweep in that title match.
Booted in the semifinals last year, Rawson Simmons has hit his stride in the tournament and will have to outlast Grantsville senior Tyler Colson to earn a berth in the title match.
Without a drop of tournament experience, Luke Heaton impressed Friday afternoon with a solid win over Park City's Connor Burke in the three-set 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory. Should Heaton advance, the tall task of dethroning Juan Diego's Brenton Reyner will be a true test for the Dixie senior.
Desert Hills continued to assert its dominance in doubles play on Friday by sending both of its teams into semifinal action. It was the exceptional play of the doubles teams that helped the Thunder walk away with a second-place finish in 2013.
Desert Hills seniors Clay Hardy and Christian Davis punched their ticket to championship day with a 6-3, 6-1 defeat over the Morgan duo of Ben Holland and Bobby Cluff. The second doubles pair of Austin Hardy and Preston Permenter will face their toughest challenge of the tournament when they get on the courts Saturday to face off against the Soaring Eagle team of Ryan Lowe and Rex Alley.
Championship day of the tournament will take place at the Liberty Park tennis courts, weather permitting.
3A boys state tennis
Eccels Tennis Center and Salt Lake Tennis Courts
Justin Eriksen, North Sanpete, def. TJ Hatch, Morgan, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4; Tevan Balian, Dixie, def. Ivan Gonzales, Tooele, 6-0, 6-0; Gabe Anderson, Desert Hills, def. Braden Sandberg, Grantsville, 6-2, 6-1; TJ Mayo, Park City, def. Jake Harris, Richfield, 6-0, 6-1; Matt Douglas, Snow Canyon, def. Taylor Francom, Bear River, 6-0, 6-2; Carson Gilbert, Union, def. Adam Pullan, Payson, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6; Brendan Kempin, Juan Diego, def. Derek Dunnell, Canyon View 6-1, 6-0; Zac Coonen, Cedar City, def. Logan McBride, Stansbury, 6-3, 6-1.
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