Mike Terry, Deseret News
Brighton High's No. 1 singles player, Spencer Smith, smacks a forehand return on his way to winning a third straight state title Saturday.

The Brighton Bengals cruised through the singles rounds en route to taking their third straight 5A state tennis championship Saturday at Liberty Park.

Brighton wound up with 21 points compared to 15 for runner-up Hillcrest, while Lone Peak rounded out the top three with 13 points, and Bingham was right behind with 12.

All three Bengals singles players won in straight sets to take the individual crowns. Brighton junior Spencer Smith quickly dispatched Lehi's Devan Dean 6-1, 6-1 in the semis and then went on to defeat Lone Peak's Tyler Loong, who was coming off a four-hour semifinal win over Alta's Landon Barlow, 6-4, 6-1, to win his third straight No. 1 singles title.

"I was pretty nervous at first, but as the match went on, I got less nervous and started hitting the ball better," Smith said.

Brighton senior Corbin Benson also took his third straight title at No. 2 singles, sailing through the semis with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Bingham's Justin Benson, and then defeating Lone Peak's Spencer Loong 6-3, 6-3.

Brighton freshman Grant Taylor beat Hillcrest's Bridger Dallimore 6-1, 6-0 in No. 3 singles. The region rivals split matches during the season, but Taylor was unbeatable at state, only dropping four total games through four rounds.

"I just have the most amazing boys and they're fabulous to work with," Brighton head coach Natalie Aposhian said.

In No. 1 doubles, Bingham's tandem of Jeff Peterson and Steven Balls won a three-hour and 50-minute semifinal match over Skyline's Ben Tasavec and Dennie Clark and then carried that over to come from behind in the final two sets to beat Hillcrest's Zach Dastrup and Jeff Oviatt, who competed in a three-hour semifinal of their own, 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in another long three-setter.

Hillcrest made an excellent overall tournament showing, jumping from fourth at the end of the quarterfinals to second by getting three slots through to the finals. The Huskies more than tripled their total team score from state last year.

"The significant thing about our team is that we don't have one club player," Hillcrest head coach Jim Hashimoto said. "The thing about tennis is if you have good athletes and if they work hard, they can succeed."

"They've always had good doubles," Aposhian said. "That's why every match here was important."

Hillcrest took the No. 2 doubles titles when Brett Hashimoto and Jamison Meiling overcame a 1-4 second-set deficit to win five straight games and defeat their Skyline region rivals, Evan Bonar and Luke Shunk, 6-3, 6-4. Skyline beat Hillcrest to take the No. 2 doubles crown in Region 2 last week.

"We're so excited we beat them here," Brett Hashimoto said.

"We wouldn't have it any other way," Meiling added with a smile. "You have to play the best to beat the best."


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