Alta came into the 4A High School Tennis Championships highly favored by most. A few, however, thought the Hawks were ripe for an upset. Too many good players this year for one team to dominates, said one early observer. The fact that Alta lost four of five finals in region playoffs, even though it still won the title, supported the possibility.
Alta players listened, adjusted and proved supporters right as they did, indeed, dominate. With one match yet to play, Alta staked full claim to the 4A title on Monday.After four of five finals Alta has 21 points, Brighton 11, Hillcrest 9, and Timpview, Bonneville and Olympus 6 each.
Because of rain last Friday, matches had to be pushed back one day. And, because of scheduled school tests, finals at No. 1 singles had to be pushed back another day.
The outcome of this match is for individual glory only. Results will not change the top positions. It could, however, move Skyline (4 points) into a tie for 4th.
In that final, Kris Rosander of Skyline will play Brandon Hodges of Alta. To make the finals, Rosander beat the returning 4A champion Royal Hansen of East, 6-3, 6-2.
Matches played Monday were indicative of a tough tournament.
At No. 2 singles, Logan Woolley of Bonneville High, beat Benji Rideout of Alta, 7-6, 6-4. The match went longer, though, than the three-setter played on the adjacent court, the result of long rallies and no easy games.
Both players lost service once in the first set. Unforced errors by Rideout combined with the back-court consistency of Woolley was the story in the tie breaker.
In the second set, Rideout broke midway through the set, but Woolley answered back with a break in the next game. At 4-all, Woolley broke again, the held service for the match.
The match was classic backcourt play, just the way Woolley had it planned . . . "To stay in the backcourt and come in on the short shots. I also tried to keep it deep to his backhand. I was able to stay with my game throughout the match," he said.
At No. 3 singles, Richard Nuttal of Alta, beat Scott Clark of Hillcrest, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. After losing the first set, Clark changed his attack and started coming to the net. This, admitted Nuttal, knocked his game out of synch.
"He played the serve and volley and kept me back. In the third I changed my game and went for the first serve instead of a hard second. I changed and he didn't," he said.
At No. 1 doubles, Jacob Smart and Bret Ball of Alta beat John Hedberg and Tyler Nielsen of Brighton, 6-2, 6-4.
At No. 2 doubles, Abel Thomas and Brian Oliver of Olympus, beat Danny Robbins and Chris Nelson of Brighton, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
The team win was the first for two-year coach Joe Ostraff, but likely not the last. He loses only one player, Ball, to graduation.
In reflecting back on this win, he felt two key elements were the regionals - "I think they were a little embarrassed by what happened in the regionals and came here to prove something," he said. - and talk floating around the halls that some thought that Alta wouldn't win.
"They wanted to prove they could do it," said Ostraff. "They came here to win it . . . and they wanted to win big."
And they did just that.2A championships
Grantsville extended its claim as Utah's most prolific prep tennis program, claiming the 2A title at the UHSAA-First Security Bank state championship meet Monday at BYU.
Take a look at Grantsville's latest title in a historic perspective - it's the school's third consecutive 2A crown, sixth championship in an eight-year span and 14th overall either shared or won outright in a quarter of a century. Highland had won 12 state tennis titles, while Olympus and Manti have claimed all or a share of eight championships apiece.
The Cowboys claimed the 1991 crown with 21 team points, compared to 13 for runner-up Park City, which finished second last year as well. Manti finished third with nine points and Richfield fourth with five. South Sevier and North Sanpete were the only other teams to score, each earning a point.
Park City's Rudy Stankovic successfully defended his No. 1 singles crown, downing 1990 No. 2 singles champion Paul Symonds of Grantsville 6-0, 6-2 in the finals. The two games that Stankovic lost in the last set were the only two that he dropped during the three-round state tournament.
And Grantsville's Colby Burr, last year's No. 3 singles champ, stepped up to the No. 2 singles in style, defeating Park City's Oliver Pilnei 6-2, 6-3 in the finals.
After being taken to the three-set limit in the semifinals by Park City's Jesse Davis, Kris Jogensen of Manti had an easier time disposing of Grantsville's Ryan Fidler in the finals, winning 6-3, 6-4.
Grantsville swept the two doubles divisions - the duo of Aaron Jefferies and Chris Johnson beat Manti's Travis Thompson and Mark Nielsen 6-3, 6-1 in the No. 1 doubles finals, while the tandem of Josh Nelson and Paul Andersen downed Park City's Jonathan Manwaring and Craig Kibbie 6-3, 6-1 in the No. 2 doubles finals.