NORTH LOGAN — It had been seven years since Logan’s boys tennis program captured the last of its 11 straight region tournament titles.
Dylan Jenkins and company made sure the Grizzlies’ drought didn’t last any longer.
Jenkins beat all comers at No. 2 singles, and Logan had enough depth to hold off a stiff challenge from Green Canyon and Ridgeline at the Region 12 Championships, which concluded on a windy Thursday afternoon. The Grizzlies advanced all five of their positions to the championship round and racked up 61 points, which was four more than the Wolves and five more than the Riverhawks.
“It feels great,” Jenkins said. “In the four years that I’ve been at Logan High, we haven’t won until this year. It feels great to bring the tradition back and win.”
Defending champion Green Canyon and Ridgeline definitely made things interesting by reigning supreme at two positions apiece. Logan went 1-4 in the finals and lost a pair of very good doubles matches in three sets.
“I think that it’s really tough for the boys, just because with the seeding for state, they were all kind of hoping to get a 1 seed, but to make it to the championship match all the way down the line (is pretty special),” Logan head coach Kallie Rice said. “Last year they didn’t even get everybody to state, so for everybody to get to the championship (round) this year, that’s pretty incredible.”
Jenkins backed up his No. 1 seed and unblemished region record with straight-sets victories in the semifinals and finals. The senior was tested by Ridgeline’s Matt Ensign in the finals before slamming the door, 6-2, 7-5.
“In the championship match there was a ton of wind, so it was really hard, but I think what I did best was just getting my serves in and keeping myself in the points,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins was never in danger of losing Thursday, and neither were the other two singles champions.
Green Canyon’s Ryan Jeppson will be arguably the favorite to claim the No. 1 singles crown next weekend at the 4A State Championships, and he played extremely well in a 6-0, 6-1 triumph over Logan’s Jeff Wang in the region finals.
The senior set the tone early on with an audacious shoe string volley winner in the first game, and everyone is attendance knew it was going to be Jeppson’s day when he hit an insanely difficult drop volley for a winner a couple of games later. Jeppson’s shot-making and court movement was too much for Wang, who is a very good player in his own right.
Not only did Jeppson capture his third consecutive region title at the top singles spot, his kept his perfect record in 2019 intact.
“I feel really good about my chances (at state) because I just kind of let loose today and I just played my heart out. I (told myself) I’m just going to go out there and play as hard as I can and see what happens, and I definitely played well,” Jeppson said. “And if I can keep it up, I definitely feel really good about state.”
Likewise, Ridgeline’s Landon Brenchley has yet to taste defeat this spring, and he rolled to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Logan’s Paul Miller in the championship match at third singles. A few weeks ago, Brenchley outlasted Miller in a battle of attrition that lasted three-and-a-half hours and was decided in a third-set tiebreaker.
Brenchley, a region titleist at second doubles a year ago, didn’t need nearly as long to dispatch of Miller this time. The senior took control with his steady, cerebral play, ability to put shots away at the net and effective lob.
On the flip side, both championship doubles matches were hard-fought affairs featuring some superb play by all four duos. At the No. 1 position, Green Canyon’s Jason Broadbent and Isaac Olsen outpointed Logan’s Jack Cliften and Michael Summers for the second time in as many weeks, but this time it was very competitive.
Olsen and Broadbent appeared to be on their way to another easy win, but Cliften helped turn the tide in the second set by doing an outstanding job of cutting off the angles at the net for a wealth of easy overheads and vollies, plus Summers was very aggressive from the baseline.
Both doubles tandems played very well in the decisive third set. Logan won an epic game that went to at least 15 deuces to break serve and pull even at 4-4, but Green Canyon immediately broke back and then closed out a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 win on Broadbent’s serve. Olsen and Broadbent, a region champ at first doubles in 2018, both smacked winners in the final game.
At second doubles, Ridgeline’s Decker Robison and Kaleb Buchmiller dug deep after a rough first set and rallied past Logan’s top-seeded duo of Kimbal Ricks/Monson Brown, 0-6, 6-4, 7-5.
The Grizzlies played exceptional tennis in an opening set highlighted by a between-the-legs shot by Ricks, who executed that shot again later in the match.
To their credit, Robison and Buchmiller refused to fold, and the twosome came from behind to claim the second set, with Robison putting away an overhead on set point.
Buchmiller and Brenchley won the region championship in a well-contested battle at second doubles a year ago, and Buchmiller said that experience was instrumental in helping him defend his title.
“It helped a lot, honestly,” Buchmiller said. “It feels good. I’m glad that Landon also defended his title, so that gave me a little inspiration seeing him win over in that court (right next to us). But yeah, it feels great to win it again.”
In the third set, neither team broke serve until the score was 5-5. Ridgeline won the final two games, with Robison closing things out in style with a powerful overhead.
In the process, Buchmiller and Robison avenged a three-set setback to Brown and Ricks from a few weeks ago.
“I definitely feel like we served better in this match, and we’ve been working on lobs a bit, trying to incorporate them better into our game,” Robison said. “And we’ve been working on our cross court shots, just making sure every single ball is cross court, and just getting that consistency down.”
Several Cache Valley players finished third at their respective position. Green Canyon’s Logan Nielsen (No. 2 singles) won his third-place match in straight sets, as did teammate Calvin Felt (No. 3 singles) and GC’s No. 2 doubles duo of Jordan Broadbent/Kade Pierson.
It was a good tournament for Sky View, which had two of its players break seed and knocked off talented higher-seeded opponents in third-place matches. Those Bobcats were Andrew Funk (No. 1 singles) and their top doubles tandem of Ethan Coombs/Boston Hellstern.
Sky View finished fourth with 28 points, followed by Mountain Crest (21) and Bear River (0). The Bobcats qualified three of their five positions for the state tournament, while the Mustangs will be sending two positions to state.
Logan, Green Canyon and Ridgeline are capable of making noise at state, and Rice has lofty aspirations for her team.
“Even though we didn’t do quite as well as we wanted to at region — we were hoping to get a few more champions than we did — we still feel like we’ve got a pretty good shot at taking the state championship,” she said. “It’s going to be an exciting tournament.”