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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Bengals claim Class 5A boys tennis crown

Jun 13, 2018 05:27PM ● By Josh McFadden

After getting all seven players to at least the semifinals, the Brighton boys tennis team won the Class 5A state title. (Photo by Ron Meyer)

By Josh McFadden | [email protected]

When the Class 5A state boys tennis tournament convened at Liberty Park on May 16, some of the best tennis players in Utah were on display. It wouldn’t be easy for any team to emerge as champions.

The Brighton Bengals stood above the rest.

Brighton brought home the state crown by scoring 20 points at the tournament. Second-place Woods Cross had 13 points.

The Bengals produced impressive performances at all positions. All seven of their varsity players made it to the state tournament, and each got to at least the semifinals. First singles competitor Redd Owen was the lone Bengal to win an individual championship. The sophomore won his first two matches 6-0, 6-0. In the semifinals, he defeated Spencer Johnson of Woods Cross 6-4, 6-2. In the climactic championship match, he outlasted Josh Pearce of Timpview 6-3, 6-4.

Three other Bengal positions were runners-up at state. Second singles player Mitch Smith, a sophomore, took second. He won his first three matches in straight sets and then fell in the finals 6-2, 6-2. Head coach Natalie Meyer said Smith “played the best tennis I’ve ever seen him play throughout the entire tournament.”

Third singles player Derek Turley, a senior, also came in second after going 9-1 during the regular season. The first doubles pair of Jared Hunt (sophomore) and Parker Watts (a junior) lost in the championship match 6-4, 6-3. Meyer said they were a “well-oiled machine.” Senior Blair Glade and junior Justin Allen reached the semifinals but lost there 6-0, 6-2 to the eventual champions. The fact that they reached the semifinals secured a state title for the Bengals.

“They all played at the top of their game,” Meyer said. “None of them had the first-round jitters, and they fought for every point in every match.”

Meyer talked about each player individually and had glowing reviews of their effort and performance. She was pleased with how the team fought through adversity and against skilled opponents.

“The team completely exceeded my expectations at state,” Meyer said. “I knew we had a shot at the title, but this was the first time entering the second day at state that I had no clue as to what was going to happen. We had so many ways that we could have lost the state title, but everything went in our favor. I had a few ‘heart attacks’ along the way but enjoyed every moment. I was most excited by the poise that each of the players and the entire team had on and off the court. They were always ready to go, they were coachable, and they executed their game plans flawlessly.”

Meyer said the state championship run began once last season ended when the players started working toward this goal. She also credited the support and efforts of everyone involved with the team.

“It took our team, our coaches and our fans to get us to the top,” she said. “All of the hard work and dedication during this season and offseason paid off, and I am proud of each and every one of them. Honestly, my favorite part is when they dump the entire Gatorade jug over my head. That is the ultimate in a coaching experience and when you know you are part of something special.”

Owen, Smith, Watts and Allen all return next season, so Meyer has plenty of firepower to work with in 2019.

“With the talent that is returning and that of the incoming freshmen next year, we have a shot at taking the title again,” Meyer said. “I have some little brothers of current players who will attend Brighton next year and a JV team that will be hungry to move into varsity spots and earn their stripes. I am excited for the level of tennis that we are about to embark on.”