Nicole Boliaux, Deseret News
FILE: Redd Owen from Brighton High School serves Micah Heimuli from Lone Peak High School during the 5A Boy's Tennis 1st Singles Finals at the Liberty Park Tennis Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

A year ago, Lone Peak narrowly edged Bingham to claim the 5A state tennis title. A repeat might be a forgone conclusion a year later as the Knights are much improved, but also realignment has diluted some of the competition.

The 6A state tournament begins this Thursday with the first two rounds at Liberty Park, and all eyes will be on Lone Peak’s strength at all five positions.

Despite being the favorite, Lone Peak coach John LaCognata said realignment in the new 6A classification has created some uncertainty.

“Losing Brighton and Viewmont and several other schools that didn’t come up to 6A, it’s kind of an unknown quantity in terms of what we’re really going up against,” said LaCognata.

It might not really matter.

It starts at the top with senior Brigham Andrus. After skipping last high school season to train in California for six months, Andrus is back for the Knights this season, and he went undefeated at No. 1 singles.

Micah Heimuli, who was the 5A runner-up at first singles a year ago, is competing at second singles.

Freshman Tyler Wells is an elite-level newcomer competing at third singles. The trickle-down effect from Andrus and Wells means that Niles Cochran, who was a state runner-up at second singles last year, is now competing in first doubles.

That depth will be difficult for anyone to compete with.

“That experience of having played and been up here, I think that helps them to relax and play their game,” said LaCognata.

Andrus won the second singles championships as a sophomore, and after a year off is the favorite at first singles. The path to the final is pretty straightforward, but a championship against either Weber senior Cooper Harrison or Herriman sophomore Giovanni Claus would be a good challenge.

Weber coach Carolyn MacFarlane said nothing is ever easy in the first singles draw.

“Everyone in the No. 1 singles draw is tough, I’ll just tell you that. It’s always hard. You’ve got to have your A game and you’ve got to show up every single match,” MacFarlane said.

Doubles could be where the best drama is during the state tournament. LaCognata said doubles matches throughout Region 4 play routinely went three sets, and he wouldn’t be surprised if all four teams advanced to the semifinals in both first and second doubles.

6A state tournament

Thursday at Liberty Park

First singles

Upper bracket

Ethan Wood, Pleasant Grove vs. Naga Paritala, Hillcrest

Cooper Harrison, Weber vs. Colin Barnett, Copper Hills

Giovanni Claus, Herriman vs. Josh Morey, Fremont

Adam Bentley, Granger vs. Ben Davis, American Fork

Lower bracket

Preston Kammeyer, Layton vs. Jessie Marchant, Taylorsville

Brigham Andrus, Lone Peak vs. Zach Bagshaw, Hunter

Jesse Nomichith, Cyprus vs. Ethan Snow, Bingham

Jeremy Larson, Riverton vs. Danny Zlotnick, Davis

Second singles

Upper bracket

Khyler Silim, Taylorsville vs. Josh Smith, Pleasant Grove

Bridger Harrison, Weber vs. Jeff Henrie, Cyprus

Aaron Bentley, Granger vs. Braden Hintze, Davis

Cade Condie, American Fork vs. Giovanni Jimenez, Copper Hills

Lower bracket

Alan Zhao, Hillcrest vs. Tanner Armstrong, Fremont

Micah Heimuli, Lone Peak vs. Kale Nicholson, Herriman

Keaton Baucom, Riverton vs. Cameron White, Westlake

Chase Boisjolie, Layton vs. James Hunt, Hunter

Third singles

Upper bracket

Brandon Khoune, Taylorsville vs. Josh Austin, Cyprus

Tyler Wells, Lone Peak vs. Adam Jensen, Clearfield

Walker Kemp, Layton vs. Jeremy Christensen, Bingham

John Huynh, Granger vs. Grahm Molloy, Herriman

Lower bracket

Charlie Henderson, Davis vs. Danny Lee, Pleasant Grove

Erik Yu, Hillcrest vs. Connor Haslam, Copper Hills

Trevor Nielsen, Riverton vs. Miguel Garnica, Kearns

Easton McBeth, American Fork vs. Chandler Dearden, Northridge

First doubles

Upper bracket

Niles Cochran/Josh Bearss, Lone Peak vs. Brady Hartog/Stephen Yu, Hillcrest

Jess Denhalter/Travis Anderson, Layton vs. Allen Richardson/Evan Hofheins, Herriman

Parker Haarbrink/Berkley Day, Riverton vs. Braedon Iverson/Hudson Schenk, Weber

Matt Crosby/Jayden Crowther, Cyprus vs. Josh Peterson/Cody White, Bingham

Lower bracket

Wade Hicks/Bowen Work, Northridge vs. Chase Smith/Ian Moore, Taylorsville

Dane Petersen/Ben Roper, American Fork vs. Garin Gee/Cooper Condie, Hunter

Joshua Higginson/Tyler Smith, Granger vs. Noah Cook/Evan Armknecht, Pleasant Grove

Garrett Matua/Hunter Sanders, West Jordan vs. Braxton Frost/Brixton Perez, Davis

Second doubles

Upper bracket

Travis Simmons/Decklar Coffman, Copper Hills vs. McKay Sobotka/Rob Crowther, American Fork

Jonah Feigleson/McKay Renstrom, Davis vs. Peter Kirkendall/Brandon Lancaster, Cyprus

Brandon Huong/Calvin Mai, Granger vs. Oskar Peterson/Eli Hall, Weber

Austin Cox/Ben Crane, Bingham vs. Brandon Hovi/Nate Bennett, Herriman

Lower bracket

John McElroy/Ian Tsai, Hillcrest vs. Angel Guzmen/Spencer Salisbury, Fremont

Alex Miller/Josh Weichers, Lone Peak vs. David Church/Azeem Mohammed, Taylorsville

Pierce Schouter/Jeremiah Stone, Riverton vs. Jacob Wimmer/Adam Norton, Pleasant Grove

Kaden Falk/Bronson Shaw, Layton vs. Thomas Sanders/Jonah Hall, Hunter