Five local boys tennis players still have aspirations of capturing state titles as they won their first two matches at the 4A State Championships on Friday at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.
For the third straight year, Green Canyon standout Ryan Jeppson advanced to the semifinals at No. 1 singles — a rare accomplishment for any athlete, let alone one from Cache Valley. The senior has yet to advance to the championship round, although he lost a three-set heartbreaker to the eventual titleist a year ago.
Jeppson only lost one game in the opening round before dispatching of Bonnevile’s Caden Heaton, 6-1, 7-5, in the quarterfinals. The Region 12 champ outpointed Heaton to two close sets in the quarters last year. Up next for Jeppson is a showdown against fellow No. 1 seed Liam Duffin, a freshman from Desert Hills.
“To get to the second day of state is always icing on the cake,” GC head coach Camille Jeppson said. “To get there at first singles multiple years is a great accomplishment. It shows how hard Ryan has worked over the years. It’s never easy. Ryan seemed to be cruising, up 6-1, 5-1 in his second round (match). Then, his good friend from Bonneville loosened up and raised his game. Caden brought it back to 5-5, then Ryan’s mental game kicked in and he got the next two games to win. Ryan knows how to adjust his game to get it done.”
Jeppson has yet to lose a match during the 2019 prep season.
Two other local singles players — Logan’s Dylan Jenkins (No. 2 spot) and Ridgeline’s Landon Brenchley (No. 3) — will be vying for state championships Saturday, as will the Grizzlies’ No. 2 doubles tandem of Kimbal Ricks and Monson Brown.
Jenkins rolled to a 6-0, 6-2 victory in Round 1, and then prevailed against Payson’s Jacob Montgomery, 6-2, 6-3, in the quarterfinals. The senior will square off against Region 11 champ Tucker Lee of Park City in the semis.
“Dylan has been working so hard on playing smart tennis,” LHS head coach Kallie Rice said. “Throughout the season, we’ve really developed his strategy and it’s definitely paying off here at the state tournament. Dylan’s mental toughness and positive attitude are why he’s finding so much success this year. He’s one of the most coachable players I’ve ever been around.”
Brenchley, who like Jeppson and Jenkins went undefeated against region opponents this spring, breezed his way into the semifinals. The senior didn’t lose any games in two of his four sets and only dropped a combined five games in the first two rounds.
Up next for Brenchley, who is undefeated on the season, is a matchup against Bonneville’s Brecken Benard. Benard was a semifinalist at second singles a year ago.
“Super proud of Landon and how aggressive he has been the first two rounds,” RHS head coach Kyle Stanger said. “He’s been taking his game to the next level and we are hoping it pays off (Saturday).”
Brown and Ricks only lost one game in each set in their first match before staving off elimination in the quarters. Logan’s duo survived in thrilling fashion against Hurricane’s Zac Magg and Brandon Langston, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6. The third-set tiebreaker was a 13-11 battle of attrition. Ricks and Brown lost their region championship match in a three-set nailbiter, this so was a little bit of sweet redemption.
Brown and Ricks now face Region 9 champions Gibson Crawford and Jared Sudweeks of Pine View in the semis.
The Grizzlies nearly advanced three of their five positions to Day 2 of the tournament, but third singles player Paul Miller lost a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 heartbreaker in the quarters.
In addition to Miller, Green Canyon’s No. 1 doubles team of Isaac Olson and Jason Broadbent went 1-1 at the tourney, as did Ridgeline’s No. 2 doubles squad of Kaleb Buchmiller and Decker Robison. Ridgeline singles players Eric Ellis (No. 1) and Matt Ensign (No. 2) fell in three sets in the first round — Ellis to Jeppson’s eventual foe in the semis.
After Day 1 of the team competition, Region 11 rivals Park City and Bonneville are tied for first place with nine out of a maximum 10 points. Desert Hills is currently in third place with seven points, followed by Logan with five. Green Canyon and Ridgeline have three points each.
Ridgeline honored its five seniors — Brooklyn Anderson, Tyler Thornton, Izzy Telford, Islay Kekauoha and Aree Kidman — by absolutely crushing the ball in a 16-5 drubbing of Layton on Friday in Millville. The Riverhawks plated eight runs in the bottom of the sixth to slam the door, culminating with a grand slam by Kenzee Hale to invoke the mercy rule.
The Riverhawks (17-11) racked up eight extra base hits. Thornton homered twice — a three-run jack in the fourth frame and a two-run shot in the sixth — and tripled. Kidman also smacked a two-run homer in the bottom of the third. Anderson, Tia Washington and Hale doubled.
Thornton and Hale each went 4 for 4 at the plate. The duo combined for nine RBIs and six runs. Kidman chipped in with three RBIs.
“Senior Night was made special with the bats, defense and overall play tonight,” RHS head coach Mike Anderson said. “It was a hit party that should provide some positive momentum for state. We lose five of the best seniors that I have ever coached and five of the best people that I know.”
Ridgeline, Mountain Crest and Logan will compete in the 4A State Championships, starting Saturday.