The 2017 high school boys tennis season wrapped up at the Class 3A state tournament Friday and Saturday at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, with Tooele County well-represented near the top of the standings.
Grantsville freshman Porter Whitworth advanced to the semifinals at No. 2 singles, while Stansbury senior T.J. Thomsen and sophomore Brady Kimberling became the first Stallion tennis players to reach the semifinal round at No. 2 doubles. Those efforts helped Stansbury tie for sixth place, while Grantsville tied for eighth.
“The key for them was Brady being absolutely consistent from the baseline and T.J. putting things away at the net,” Stansbury coach Kevin Smith said. “Unfortunately, they couldn’t find that in this [semifinal] match.”
Thomsen and Kimberling, who hadn’t played much together until recently, came into the tournament as the No. 2 seed from Region 10 behind Park City’s Quinn Dicesaris and Colton Stephens. Thomsen and Kimberling took down Hurricane’s Preston DuCrest and Nash Stout 6-3, 6-0 in the opening round to set up a meeting with North Sanpete’s Brenden Blackham and Tanner Morley in the quarterfinals, where the Stansbury duo battled to a 6-4, 6-4 win.
“I wish I would have played all four years — I could have been a dangerous person,” said Thomsen, who just started playing tennis last year. “I played good, I did my best and I left it all on the court.”
That sent Thomsen and Kimberling into Saturday morning’s semifinal round, where they ran into Noah Thompson and Ethan Anderson of Desert Hills. The Stallions put up a strong fight, but ultimately lost 6-3, 6-3.
“We gave too many shots to the net player and couldn’t really keep it away from him,” Kimberling said. “He got a lot of overheads and was able to put the shots away.
“If we would have had more time [together], I bet we could have gone farther, but it is what it is. It makes me feel excited because I know I can do it and I can make it here and go far.”
Whitworth had an impressive run of his own, reaching the semifinals in his first year of high school tennis. He beat Cedar senior Greyson Loveland 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round, and followed that with a 7-6, 6-2 win over Ridgeline junior Max Lyons in the quarterfinals.
Eventual state champion Keanu Rigby of Bear River was too strong for Whitworth in Saturday morning’s semifinal, with Rigby winning 6-1, 6-1. Rigby, also a freshman, lost just five games in his four matches in a dominant performance.
“I’m going to train this summer to be a little more consistent, place it a little better and hit it a little harder,” Whitworth said.
Grantsville coach Stephen Thurgood was impressed with Whitworth’s run through the tournament.
“I think it was good for him,” Thurgood said. “He can see what the potential might be.”
All of Stansbury’s players who competed won at least one match in the state tournament. No. 1 singles player Erik Leary beat Canyon View’s Matt Pearson 6-2, 6-1 in his first-round match before losing a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 decision to Ridgeline’s Ryan Cheney in the quarterfinals.
Andrew Gibbons beat Snow Canyon freshman Taylor Hienz 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round at No. 2 singles, and was beaten 6-1, 6-0 by Rigby in the quarterfinals. Stansbury’s No. 3 singles player, Josh England, was unable to play in the tournament because of a foot injury he suffered during the Region 10 tournament a week earlier.
The Stallions’ No. 1 doubles team of Scott Ruebush and Renden Dye, who won the Region 10 title, rolled to a 6-0, 6-1 win over Richfield’s Parker Achenbach and Dillon Blackner in the first round, but lost 6-2, 6-3 to Daniel Bethers and Carson Bottema of Dixie in the quarterfinals.
“I think we underachieved once we got past the first round,” Smith said. “The kids haven’t been here before and they’re learning how to play at that high intensity level, but they played phenomenally. I’m very proud of the kids. They did an amazing job and they bought in. I’m a new coach to them, and they were humble and teachable. They made this season great and made it what it was.”
Grantsville had two singles players and a doubles team make it to the quarterfinals. No. 1 singles player Seth Beckett beat Juab’s Ashton Lyons 6-2, 6-1 in the first round and lost to eventual state champion Steffen Rigby of Bear River 6-0, 6-1 in the quarters.
The Cowboys’ top doubles team of Andrew Dalton and Jase Wilson also reached the quarters by beating Sterling Bradshaw and Avery Whittaker of Canyon View 6-2, 6-3 in the first round. Dalton and Wilson were beaten 6-3, 6-4 in the quarters by eventual state runners-up Conner McArthur and Josh James of Desert Hills.
Peter Kurtz lost his first-round match 6-1, 6-4 to Logan’s Jake Dickson at No. 3 singles. Weston Tuckett and Parker Killian lost 6-1, 6-4 to Pine View’s Futo Ide and Nathan Obray in the first round of the No. 2 doubles bracket.
“Our goal was preparing for next year,” Thurgood said. “I don’t have any seniors, so I have everybody back. I hope the ones that are coming back realize that they don’t set their rackets down now and pick them up next February and expect to be any better.”
Tooele’s Terran Dunn and Jayden Petersen lost in the first round of the No. 1 doubles bracket, falling 6-2, 6-1 to Joe Garlick and Kendall Grasteit of North Sanpete.