NORTH LOGAN — Logan put itself in prime position for the Region 12 boys tennis title with one match to play after downing Green Canyon 3-2 on the road Tuesday afternoon.
The Grizzlies needed every bit of its depth as a team to overcome the Wolves to remain undefeated in region play. GC jumped out early thanks to Ryan Jeppson’s 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Jeff Wang in the first singles slot and the first doubles win by Wolves duo Jason Broadbent and Isaac Olsen over Logan’s Michael Summers and Jack Cliften, 6-0, 6-2.
However, the Grizzlies won the remaining matchups in second and third singles as well as second doubles.
Logan head coach Kallie Rice said she was “blown away” by Green Canyon’s initial energy that helped the Wolves establish the early lead with wins at both number one slots, a 2-0 lead in the first set of No. 2 doubles and a first set win in No. 2 singles.
“At first we started out super slow because we were intimidated,” Rice said. “Once we started matching their energy, we really got going.”
It’s not as though the Grizzlies were completely unfamiliar with their opponent. The two sides were meeting for the second time in four days, having squared off on Saturday in the Ogden Invitational championship match, which Logan won via a tiebreaker based on overall games lost in individual matches.
“It’s almost worse when you win the first time because then you come out here and then you come out a little more relaxed,” Rice said.
Logan’s Kimbal Ricks and Monson Brown took home the first match win at the No. 2 doubles slot. They downed Jordan Broadbent and Kade Pierson 6-3, 6-1 to remain undefeated as a duo in doubles matches in region play this season.
Again, the theme of mental fortitude came up as Brown talked about aggression when overcoming an early 2-0 deficit in the opening set.
“I feel like the main part was having our head in the game and being aggressive,” Brown said. “Because when we’re aggressive, we tend to do better and when one (partner) gets aggressive, the other gets aggressive and we just feed off each other.”
Winning 6-3, 6-1 wound up being the closest the Grizzlies got to a comfortable win with Ricks and Brown winning by that score and teammate Paul Miller beating GC’s Calvin Felt by a 6-3, 6-3 score at the No. 3 singles slot.
In one of the decisive matches, Dylan Jenkins and Logan Nielsen went three sets with Jenkins taking home the win for the Grizzlies, even though he dropped the first set. Jenkins ended up prevailing, 3-6, 6-0, 6-1.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Rice said.
Perhaps more noteworthy than the fact that several matches were closely contested was that Logan won each match where the losing side won more than three overall games. It’s a fact Rice attributed to reps on the practice court.
“I think that goes to show how hard the boys have been working,” Rice said. “Those high-pressure situations, we’ve been practicing that a lot in practice and the strategy behind that pressure. And they executed in those positions.”
Jenkins’ win showcased some of the most grit by any of the Logan players and doubles teams, and perfectly exemplified the overall theme of overcoming a slow start. Nielsen “came out swinging” as Rice put it, and the Wolves’ No. 2 man certainly swung hard on his serves, slinging them across the court en route to a 6-3 first set win. Eventually, Jenkins overcame that with a painfully simple, but difficult workaround.
“My strategy with the serves was just to get it in and then once I was back into the point, just take it from there,” Jenkins said.
Once settled and able to handle the serves, Jenkins got into the head of his foe and lost just one game the rest of the way.
The win by Jenkins proved decisive, but it only tied the overall tally. Miller’s somewhat comfortable win over Felt ultimately sealed the win as it went the longest of the five matches, which started at the same time.
“Paul is just kind of a pitbull,” Rice said. “He’ll go out there and get in your face a little bit, but he’ll pack a lunch and stay out there for hours, whatever it takes to win.”
Both teams will play one more region match this week before the region tournament, which starts next Wednesday. Logan currently sits in first place in the region standings.