With the boys tennis season underway there are several teams pointed toward successful seasons. This is a look at some of the schools that should be in the hunt for state titles.
The 5A season might look similar to last year. Brighton is the defending champion and has a strong chance of repeating after losing only one singles player to graduation. Lone Peak took third in the 2015 state tournament and returns this season with the same team.
“We did not lose a single player to graduation,” Knights head coach John LaCognata said. “Brighton is in the same situation, so they’ll come back with a full set of players as well.”
The Knights' first singles player, senior Brocton Andrus, took second to Viewmont’s Jake Tullis last year. Andrus has an opening to claim the top spot.
Lone Peak's third singles player, Micah Heimuli, had some success last year as a freshman. Micah is the younger brother of Leah Heimuli. Leah had success for the Lone Peak girls’ team in her four years.
“He's very mature, respectful, humble and he has a tremendous work ethic,” LaCognata said. “Micah is about 6-foot-3 so he's just a taller version of Leah. He is kind of a coach's dream.”
With the talent LaCognata has his team could be the ones standing at the top after the season is over. Along with Brighton, LaCognata thinks that Viewmont could still be another threat despite losing Tullis.
Timpview took home the 4A state championship in 2015 after it won both doubles titles and second and third singles titles. The Thunderbirds will look differently in 2016 after losing some players to graduation.
“We lost our top three players,” Timpview head coach Rob Sperry said. “Our first singles, second singles and one of our best players that played doubles.”
Sperry describes his team as a younger squad and has only one returning senior in his group. Even with the lost players, Sperry doesn’t see 2016 as a rebuilding year. He believes it's more of a “reloading” year than a rebuilding one.
“The kids that we had last year, I don’t ever try and look to replace them,” Sperry said. “We just try and get the best kids that we have to fill the spots.”
Mountain View is a team that could give Timpview problems this season, mainly because John Dollahite, the 2015 first singles champion, is returning for his senior year. Maple Mountain took second last year after having two singles players and a doubles team in the final. The Golden Eagles return most of their players and look to have another successful season.
The teams that will have the most success throughout the season will be the ones with the correct balance of talent and depth.
Arthur Miyazaki is the head coach of the Juan Diego boys’ tennis team. Miyazaki’s team took second last year in 3A. The Soaring Eagle has a good chance at having another successful season.
Juan Diego returns all three singles players. Senior Ryan Kempin won the first singles title in 2015, junior Connor Kempin took second in second singles last year and Ben Argilius won the third singles title for the Soaring Eagle in 2015.
“We feel pretty confident that our three singles players will lead the team,” Miyazaki said.
A team that could cause a lot of trouble in 3A is Logan. Last year the Grizzlies were in 4A but the school has been moved to 3A this year. Logan qualified in all three singles and both doubles categories in the 4A tournament last year and could have more success in the smaller classification this year.
Miyazaki has some concerns about some other school as well.
“Schools like Grantsville have some nice players,” Miyazaki said. “The southern schools are all the strongest. We always prepare for the southern team to be our stiffest competition.”
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In 2015, Waterford ended up being the champion, but it had some tough fight with Grand and Manti. It looks to be the same for this season.
“There will be some good competition this year from some good teams,” Templars head coach Todd Jorgensen said.
Manti’s first doubles team took first and its second singles player took second to secure third place. The Templars lost only one senior who played on the winning doubles team. Jorgensen hopes with all his returning players that they can be just as successful or even better than last year.
Jorgensen pointed out that San Juan and Grand always have good teams and will be difficult to beat. Waterford is returning its number one singles player, senior Quinn Prichett, who won the first singles title last year. Along with Waterford Jorgensen believes that Rowland Hall will be a strong team as well.