Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Tanner Perry of Timpview High took second place in No. 1 singles at last year's Region 7 boys tennis championship. He returns for the Thunderbirds this year.

Having all the starters from your state-championship winning team would be the dream for any coach.

Rob Sperry is living the dream.

Last year Sperry coached his Timpview Thunderbirds to a state championship, narrowly edging Cottonwood 19-17. This season, with all his starters from last year returning, Sperry hopes to repeat.

"We're trying to make it eight out of 10," Sperry said. The Thunderbirds have won seven of the last nine state championships.

The Thunderbirds will be led in singles this year by Tanner Perry at No. 1, Cal Larson at No. 2 and Skyler Evans at No. 3. Last year Perry lost in the state quarterfinals to Jordan Barlow of Box Elder, while Larson won the state title against Sutton Shackelford from Highland and Evans lost to Conner Richards of Cottonwood in the semifinals.

The Thunderbirds are the assumed favorite to win Region 7 and repeat as state champions again this year. But Sperry doesn't want his team to get too far ahead of themselves.

"We don't go into the season thinking we're going to be in the finals," Sperry said. "But we have a slogan — one team, one journey, one goal. Everyone pulls for each other."

Sperry admits that having all his starters back will provide the Thunderbirds with a clear advantage, though. "We're lucky," he said.

Orem, Mountain View and Springville will all be fairly solid this season as well and could make a run during the state tournament, according to Sperry.

The Tigers took fourth at state in 2007 and return Collin Black this season at first singles. Sperry believes Black is one of the outstanding players in the region again this season and a major threat to any team he plays.

The Bruins were in 5A last year and took fifth at state. The Bruins will hope to make a run behind junior Cole Burr at No. 1 singles and senior Jorge Encinas at No. 2 singles.

The Red Devils didn't play in the state tournament last year. Nonetheless, they are still seen as a team that could make some noise in 2008.

"We have one of the better teams," said Red Devils coach Michael Cronquist. "We have more experience."

According to Cronquist, the Red Devils will be led by senior singles player Andrew Whiting as well as his No. 1 doubles team of Tyler Rymer and Alec Wiscombe.

Although the consensus seems to be Orem, Mountain View and Springville will all battle each other for second in the region behind Timpview, Cronquist believes Provo could be in the mix as well. The Bulldogs defeated the Red Devils 4-1 earlier in the year.

Bulldogs' coach Paul Tuitupou has been impressed with his team's diligence thus far.

"They are a dedicated group of players," Tuitupou said. "They want to improve. They are teachable."

In Region 4, Lone Peak is expected to repeat as champions again in 2008. Last year the Knights took the region title but fell just short in the state tournament, taking second overall behind Brighton.

The Knights will need to overcome the loss of some starters from last season in order to repeat as region champs this season.

"We lost four or five players off last year's team, and so we've been trying to focus on getting everybody playing to the best of their ability," Lone Peak coach John LaCognata said.

Such changes will make things difficult, admits LaCognata. Nevertheless, the Knights remain confident.

"Pretty much all the guys I have coming back have varsity experience," LaCognata said. "We've had a good camp in terms of guys playing hard. If we can stay injury-free, we've got a good chance of repeating."

A couple of key players returning for the Knights include Spencer and Tyler Loong at first and second singles, respectively, along with Mike Nielson at first doubles.

Spanish Fork is estimated to provide the stiffest competition for the Knights in 2008 because of the strength of their doubles teams.

"Spanish Fork has got excellent doubles teams and will provide a challenge," LaCognata said.

Dons coach Scott Dunn likes his team's chances of competing with the Knights because of his doubles teams.

"We should beat them in doubles," Dunn said. "But their No. 1 and No. 2 singles are just better than everybody else's. All we have to do is win the third singles."

Dunn doesn't know how his team will play against the Knights. But unlike many in the region, he isn't willing to say the Knights are going to just breeze through.

"It's going to be tough for us to beat them," Dunn said. "But it's going to be a lot closer than people think."

Pleasant Grove, Lehi and Timpanogos all have key players as well who could do some damage — the Vikings with Taylor Dehoyos, the Pioneers with David Dean and the Timberwolves with Tyler Mayberry. Nevertheless, it is anticipated the region title will go to the Knights, with the Dons putting up the toughest fight.

"Lone Peak is heads above the rest," said Timberwolves coach Kent Jorgensen. "Then there's Spanish Fork, while the rest of us are down on the next rung of the ladder."