SALT LAKE CITY — Co-champions no more.
Waterford proved its worth on a brisk Saturday afternoon, staking sole claim of the 2A trophy after having to share the glory with Rowland Hall in 2013.
“Of course it’s always better to be on top by yourself,” said Ravens head coach Ken Wade. “Both at the region meet and today there have been a lot of really close matches, and the thing I’m happiest about is that we’ve competed in the close matches and won a lot of them. I knew that even though we had a good draw that it could go any number of ways, so I’m really happy with the way things have gone today.”
Max Gruber officially clinched the team title for Waterford after besting Manti senior Joshua Yang in a 6-2, 6-4 victory. Gruber, a sophomore, was impressive in his debut season in singles play after a title defeat in doubles play at last year's tournament.
“It feels great, especially because I did one better than last year,” said Gruber. Last year I was runner-up in the finals of first doubles, so it feels great, and I’m really excited.”
Coach Wade praised Gruber, the lone champion for Waterford in singles play.
“He told me then that he wanted to play singles this year, and came out in tryouts and solidified his spot as No. 2. He’s been among the most solid performers all year and has played really well,” said Wade.
Geno Luzcando capped off an impressive prep career by snatching the No. 1 singles title Saturday, knocking off the Ravens' Quinn Pritchett with a 7-6, 6-4 decision.
“It feels good. From the beginning, I kept telling myself to make it to the final, so I’m really pleased with how I finished,” said Luzcando, who is also a standout basketball player. He recently committed to play for Idaho State.
“It's mental,” said Luzcando, referring to the game of tennis. “Everything is you, every mistake is you. It’s not like basketball where there's more of a team and a family and right here is more you. You have to be focused.”
Karim Shaaban picked up the lone title for last year's co-champion Rowland Hall, dueling Waterford junior Christian Heath in a three set 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 thriller.
Manti, which hoisted the trophy in 2012, finished in second place despite sending three teams into title matches. In the end, the duo of Eric Lee and Brady Pogroszewski managed to get the best of Delta’s Kyle Smith and Kaden Ledbetter in a highly contentious 6-4, 6-2 victory.
Despite the youth movement on the Waterford squad, Wade was confident his players could handle the emotions that come with a state tournament based on their previous experience at the state level.
“We’ve got a really young team, but most of them played last year at state so they didn’t have to worry about that,” said Wade. “It helped us a lot because they were in some close matches last year that got them used to the pressure.”
2A BOYS STATE TENNIS
Quinn Pritchett, Waterford, def. Matthew Bruttig, S. Sevier, 6-3, 6-2; Elijah Stock, Grand, def. Gabe Saunders, Summit, 7-6, 6-2; Geno Luzcando, Wasatch Academy, def. Steve Yi, St. Joseph, 6-0, 6-2; Bryce Baker, Rowland Hall, def. Conner Aste, Manti, 6-4, 6-3.