It wasn’t the ending he was hoping for, but Green Canyon’s Ryan Jeppson still closed out the most illustrious career by a high school boys tennis player from Cache Valley in recent memory.
Jeppson became the first local boys player to compete in a state championship match at No. 1 singles since Logan’s Nate Ballam in 2006. The senior was defeated in the finals by Park City freshman phenom Dylan Applegate, 6-2, 6-3, last Saturday at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.
Jeppson accomplished a rare feat by advancing to the semifinal round at first singles during his final three seasons. The last boys prep player from the valley to capture a state championship at first singles was Logan’s Jared Burnham in 1993.
“Yeah, it’s pretty awesome,” Jeppson said of his three-year semifinal streak. “I’ve definitely worked hard and I definitely wish that I had been able to win, but it feels good that I can make strides for Cache Valley (players). ... It feels great that I managed to do that well.”
Jeppson was clearly the second-best player in the 4A classification. After all, he pummeled Region 9 champion Liam Duffin of Desert Hills, 6-1, 6-0, in the semifinals. Earlier this season, Jeppson emerged victorious against the other eventual 4A semifinalist, Stefan Balian of Dixie.
“I knew that once I got the points started (how I wanted) ... I knew I could out-rally him and out-move him around the court, and just get that one more ball in that would help me win points,” Jeppson said when asked about his match against Duffin. “And I would just work the point and get my inside-out forehand to his backhand, come to the net and finish the points. It just worked all match.”
Unfortunately for Jeppson, Applegate ended up being too tough in the finals. Applegate is a four-star prospect and the best player Jeppson said he has ever squared off against. That’s saying a lot, considering Jeppson lost to the eventual champion as a sophomore at Sky View — the Bobcats were in the highest classification at the time — and as a junior at Green Canyon.
Jeppson, an academic all-state selection with a 4.0 GPA, has aspirations of playing at the next level, but first plans on serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I would love to play in college,” Jeppson said. “It would be awesome, but I’m just going to have to see how things work out.”
Jeppson was nearly joined in the championship round by two other local players. Logan’s Dylan Jenkins lost in three sets in the semifinals at No. 2 singles, as did Ridgeline’s Landon Brenchley at No. 3 singles. Like Jeppson, Brenchley was undefeated this season heading into his final match. Jeppson, Jenkins and Brenchley went undefeated against Region 12 foes this spring.
Logan’s No. 2 doubles tandem of Kimbal Ricks and Monson Brown fell in straight sets in the semis to the eventual champions from Pine View.
Park City held off Bonneville for the team title. The Miners finished with 19 points to the Lakers’ 17. Green Canyon and Logan tied for the No. 5 spot with five points apiece.