Repeat performance? Brighton boys tennis team aiming for another shot at title
Apr 15, 2019 10:21AM
● By Josh McFadden
Last year’s tennis team, seen here, saw all seven players reach at least the semifinals to claim the 5A state title. The Bengals are hoping for a repeat performance this season. (File photo by Ron Meyer)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
The Brighton high school boys tennis team had so much fun winning a state championship last year that coaches and players want to do it again.
The Bengals claimed top honors in Class 5A last season, winning the state tournament by accumulating 20 points, seven more than second-place Woods Cross. Brighton returns some firepower from last year’s squad and has even added some newcomers to the roster to further strengthen its chances.
“Our goals are to give 100 percent and hope for a repeat of our region and state title that we won last year,” said head coach Natalie Meyer.
Junior Redd Owen is back to defend his individual title in first singles. He won his bracket last season, defeating his opponent in the final match 6-3, 6-4. Senior team captain Parker Watts was on the first doubles team that lost in the finals last season. He’ll likely team up at that spot with junior Mitch Smith, who was runner-up in second singles in 2018. Another senior captain, Justin Allen, made it with his partner to the state semifinals in second doubles a year ago. Meyer said he’d likely play doubles once again.
“Each of these players brings an amazing amount of team spirit, tournament experience and state experience,” Meyer said. “All have been a part of Brighton tennis for years.”
An influx of skilled freshmen has Meyer excited for this season and beyond. Davis Turley is one ninth-grader she is counting on to contribute. Plus, a junior, Jacob Simmons, who played first singles at the JV level last year, is looking to move up to varsity.
“We’ve added some ninth-graders that come with top-level ability and will greatly add to the depth of our team,” Meyer said.
After a long offseason, Meyer said she and her players are eager to face the challenge of defending their state championship.
“We are as excited for our season as a child who is going to Disneyland for the first time,” she said. “Our team this year has a high level of respect for their coaches, each other and their opponents. They give 100 percent every day and are tired of the snow keeping them off the courts. They want to play.”
Meyer said she loves the energy and enthusiasm her team brings to the court each day.
“They live for tennis,” she said. “Every day of practice is exciting, and they work hard. I look forward to working with my amazing coaching staff and creating a dominant team that is a force to reckon with.”
With a potent blend of experience and talent, there might not be much in the way of Brighton’s goals. Meyer said the biggest obstacle the Bengals will face will be avoiding injuries as well as handling the mental part of the game.
“Keeping (the players’) bodies healthy and in one piece is one of our biggest challenges,” she said. “They play so much tennis, and it is easy to get an injury. We are also working on emotional toughness. Competing at this level for your high school brings an immense amount of pressure, especially at state. We have to be mentally tough and ready to battle. The teams we play against have top-level talent, and every match is tough.”
Meyer is confident her players will rise to the occasion and do what it takes to be in a position to win another championship. Perhaps more importantly, she said the players enjoy the game and enjoy being with one another. Ultimately, she’ll measure the quality of the season by how well the team bonds.
“This season will be a success if all players can walk off the court each time they play and say that they gave their all, had fun and learned from their match,” she said. “I can honestly say each one of them plays with heart. The season will also be a success if they can gain lifelong friendships from their teammates and continue to teach the game to future generations.”