The 5A classification is very tough. They’ve taken a lot of the best teams in both 5A and a lot of the best teams that were 4A that are now 5A and it’s quite a tough competition. —Brighton head coach Natalie Meyer
The 2018 boys high school tennis field will have a different look this spring. As part of UHSAA reclassification, the 2018 season will feature a new 6A classification for the first time ever and will feature new teams in each of the classifications, creating new rivalries and matchups in each of the 22 regions across the state of Utah.
Lone Peak, fresh off winning the 2016 and 2017 5A boys tennis state championship, will look to three-peat and have the talent coming back to pull it off. At last season’s 5A state tournament, the Knights had finalists in every completion expect for first doubles, and Lone Peak returns nearly all of its finalists, including senior Micah Heimuli, senior Niles Cochran and junior Logan Wells, who was the third singles champion.
It’s always kind of the same theme of, it’s more important to play your best than to be the best, so I just want the guys — from varsity to JV — to be able to go out each match and play to the best of their ability. We’ll just kind of see what happens from there,” Lone Peak head coach John LaCognata said.
The competition for placement in the Knights’ lineup will be fierce, and LaCognata is still trying to figure out where he will pencil in his players in the lineup.
“We haven’t actually figured out what that pecking order is even going to look like at this point. We’re still having them play off and trying to figure out our lineup,” LaCognata said.
Bingham, always a threat to win the championship, returns sophomore Cody White, who advanced to the third singles finals as a freshman, but graduates a big portion of its team that helped guide the Miners to a second-place finish in the 2017 state tournament.
“With the new classification, I think some of the teams that were stellar competition in the past remain 5A, in terms of Brighton, Cottonwood and Viewmont, but I expect there to be good competition within our region, good competition within 6A, it should be a lot of fun,” LaCognata said.
Brighton and Skyline are always contenders in 5A, while Timpview was always a popular pick to win the championship in 4A. Last season, Brighton finished third in the 5A state tournament and Timpview placed second in the 4A tournament, but the new 5A classification pairs the three tennis titans together, in what should be a very interesting first year for the 5A classification.
Connor Robb-Wilcox, who won the first singles championship as a freshman, along with second singles champion Ryan Boddington make defending 5A champ Skyline a force to be reckoned with in 2018.
Brighton brings back super sophomore Redd Owen, who won the 5A first singles state title as a freshman and senior Derek Turley, who advanced to the semifinals in second singles.
“We’re just trying to play them around and figure out which position is best for them in hopes that we can place somewhere in the top of our region and hopefully place at the top of state this year,” Brighton head coach Natalie Meyer said.
Neither of the Bengals’ doubles teams advanced past the quarterfinals in 2017, but Meyer likes the potential of this year’s doubles.
“We’re still trying to figure out who is going to play where, so we really haven’t set our doubles teams yet this year. The potential that we have is really good, we have great players that are very good at doubles and it’s trying to find the right tix of partnership to be able to make those teams work,” Meyer said.
Timpview also returns a strong class of players as it tries to compete for a state championship. Junior Josh Pearce, who was a 4A first singles finalist a year ago, will headline the T-Birds’ lineup.
“The 5A classification is very tough. They’ve taken a lot of the best teams in both 5A and a lot of the best teams that were 4A that are now 5A and it’s quite a tough competition,” Meyer said.
Desert Hills, Park City and defending 3A champion Bear River will vie for a trophy in the 4A classification.
“We’re about as strong as we were last year, so I certainly do anticipate a relatively competitive run at state, however I will say that I think that the 4A division this year is quite competitive this year and that obviously will play a lot into the draws and how the seeding comes out, and how we finish in region,” Desert Hills head coach Dave Smith said.
Bear River, who soundly won the 3A state tournament a year ago, returns reigning first singles champion Steffen Rigby and second singles champion Keanu Rigby.
Park City, who placed third in 2017, graduated Cole Lee, who reached the first single finals, along with Connor Burke, who reached the second singles finals, but the Miners always have a solid team capable of making a run.
Deseret Hills returns Jake Hardy, who reached the third singles semifinals, along with Noah Thompson and Ethan Anderson, who were finalists in second doubles.
“Most of the 3A teams moved up to 4A. The same teams that we were playing — Park City, Ridgeline, Salem Hills — there are still going to be a lot of the same teams that we’ve played in the past. There might be a couple teams I’m not familiar with, but this is my first year as head coach for this team. I was the assistant last year, although I’ve been the girls’ coach for the past two years, so I’m not as familiar with all the teams like Coach Christenson was before me. He was certainly more in tune with that,” Desert Hills head coach Smith said.
Defending 3A champion Waterford returns a lot of potential in hopes of repeating and hoisting another trophy. Shilp Shah, who made it to the first singles finals as a freshman, is back, along with Lansing Jenkins, the 2017 second singles champion. On the doubles front, Ford Christensen and Arvind Mudaliar, who won the second doubles title, are back for another year.
“We’re just in the process of putting the team together and we have strong singles players, so the main goal is to get doubles teams playing well together so that they can be competitive by the time we get near the end of the season,” Waterford head coach Ken Wade said.
Rowland Hall, Waterford’s main competition last season, returns Leif Thulin, first singles champion, and freshman Peter Chase, who advanced to the second singles final a year ago.
“I’m excited to have more teams and kind of a deeper field. We did it with the girls and it was positive, we had some really good matches. It’s good to have more teams in the region and in the classification. I’m looking forward to getting to know their strengths and that sort of thing,” Wade said.