We’ve worked so hard all season, and I wanted to win a state title for Soren (Feola) and all the other seniors on the team. —Rowland Hall's Justin Peng
SALT LAKE CITY — Trailing Waterford by a single point, with only the No. 2 doubles title to be decided, the Winged Lion duo of Soren Feola and Justin Peng needed a win. The pair dug deep and earned a 7-5, 7-5 win over the Richfield pair of Jason Haywood and Justus Reitz, earning two team points and vaulting Rowland Hall to their first state tennis title since 2011.
Feola and Peng gutted out a three-set semifinal win over Union just to make it into the finals. Peng, who was playing with senior Feola, relished the opportunity to clinch the title.
“This is the first time Rowland Hall has won since 2011,” Peng said. “We’ve worked so hard all season, and I wanted to win a state title for Soren and all the other seniors on the team.”
After the morning’s semis, Waterford and Rowland Hall had separated themselves from the rest of the 3A field. The Ravens and Winged Lion squared off in all three singles championship matches with Rowland Hall winning two of three.
Rowland Hall sophomore Peter Chase rallied from 5-1 down in the third to claim a No. 3 singles title with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 win over Waterford’s Ford Christensen.
Winged Lion freshman Tucker Lee also had to gut it out, and go to his orange headband to win a three-set slugfest against Waterford’s Shilp Shah.
“Realizing it’s the last match of the season and you have nothing to lose so you have to leave it all on the court,” Lee said. “Sometimes I feel like, if it's a match, I can win and need a little more motivation, I’ll put on the headband.”
Rowland Hall senior Leif Thulin dropped the No. 1 singles title to Waterford’s Lansing Jenkins, but Rowland Hall coach Tim Sleeper credited Thulin for being a special player for his program.
“Leif has really been the leader of our team the last few years so that was sad but not disappointing,” Sleeper said. “We wouldn’t be here without him, and he deserves a lot of credit for getting everyone to play at a higher level.”
Jenkins and Thulin got into an epic battle for the No. 1 singles crown Saturday afternoon. Jenkins won the first, 6-4, and held on against Thulin’s big serves and athletic approaches to prevail 7-6 in a second-set tiebreaker.
“Leif is such an athletic player, and he serves pretty big,” Lansing said. “I’m a pretty heavy hitter, but the key today was taking a little bit off that serve and being able to hit more angles and touch serves.”
As the final doubles match concluded, Sleeper and Waterford coach Ken Wade stood side by side and shook hands immediately after the Winged Lion clinched the 3A title.
“They’ve always been the ones we competed with,” Wade said. “Back when I started, they were the standard. We’ve been pretty good lately, and they won one, so we have to come back next year.”
3A Team points: Rowland Hall 23, Waterford 22, Richfield 9, Grantsville 9, Manti 5, North Sanpete 5, Judge Memorial 4, Union 4, Grand 3, Gunnison 2, Morgan 2, Juan 1, San Juan 1
3A state tennis scores
No. 1 singles semis
Lansing Jenkins, Waterford, def. Luke Pearson, Judge Memorial, 6-0, 6-3
Leif Thulin, Rowland Hall, def. Seth Beckett, Grantsville, 6-1, 6-2
No. 1 singles final:
Jenkins def. Thulin 6-4, 7-6 (6)
No. 2 singles semis
Tucker Lee, Rowland Hall, def. Peter Kurtz, Grantsville, 6-0, 6-0
Shilp Shah, Waterford, def. Tony Robinson, Judge Memorial, 6-4, 7-6
No. 2 singles final
Lee def. Shah 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
No. 3 singles semis
Ford Christensen, Waterford, def. Porter Whitworth, Grantsville, 7-5, 6-2
Peter Chase, Rowland Hall, def. Connor Bushnell, Manti, 6-2, 6-3
No. 3 singles final
Chase def. Christensen 6-2, 2-6, 7-5
No. 1 doubles semis:
Garlick and Grasteit, North Sanpete, def. Dalton and Wilson, Grantsville, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
Mudaliar & Martheswaran, Waterford, def. Achenbach and Blackner, Richfield, 6-2, 6-0
No. 1 doubles final
Mudaliar and Martheswaran def. Garlick and Grasteit 6-2, 6-2
No. 2 doubles semis
Haywood and Reitz, Richfield, def. Norris and Moshirfar, Waterford, 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Feola and Peng, Rowland Hall, def. Lisonbee and Brinkerhoff, Union, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2
No. 2 doubles final:
Feola and Peng def. Haywood and Reitz 7-5, 7-5