Top of Utah tennis players hope April efforts bring forth titles in May.
The state's high school boys tennis season is under way, and with just a few region dual matches out of the way, plenty of teams are still looking to see what they have.
While the St. Joseph High's boys squad would love to match the Jayhawks' state 1-A girls tennis title in the fall, coach Gary Griffenhagen thinks a solid finish at state would be a great success story.
"Rowland Hall has won 4-5 state titles in a row, and they return most of their players," Griffenhagen said. "So maybe that's too big a hill to climb. Still, we're looking pretty good this year. There was some excitement with the girls winning state. Our guys have experience and have mature on the court."
The Jayhawks are led by junior Alex Henabray and senior Jeff DeGrauw at No. 1 and 2 singles.
The Ogden Tigers have returned to the Region 11 ranks, but veteran coach Bill Roberts thinks the league will be wide open.
"I'm still unsure where a few teams are. We've just played on region dual match -- a 3-2 win over Grantsville. We have lots of experience and the guys are pushing each other.
Seniors Jake Wood, Brandon Muse and Blake Newman are slotted at 1-2-3 singles.
Ogden played at the Bonneville Invitational, went 4-1 at the St. George Invitational, and has three big tournaments set for April (Logan, Ogden and Boise).
Desert Hills, Park City and Juan Diego appear to the teams to beat at the state 3-A level.
The Region 11 tournament is set for May 10-11 at Ogden High. The 3-A tournament is set for May 18-19 at BYU. Following the 1-A/2-A tournament (May 12) and tournament, BYU won't be hosting UHSAA state tourney in the future.
While Box Elder, Roy and the Cache Valley schools al have their sights set on success in league play, the Bonneville Lakers are a year old and ready to roll to the top of the standings.
With singles players Parker Jones, Jay Walter and Tyler Heaton back, Bonneville looks like a solid bet to pile up dual match wins and region points.
Bonneville and powerful Highland battled point for point in the early Bonneville Invite. The Rams are among the top 4-A teams, along with deep Timpview, Woods Cross and Logan.
The state 4-A tournament is set for May 18-18 at Salt Lake City's Liberty Park.
Insiders say the Region 1 team title is already a lock for the Davis Darts, with the Weber Warriors perhaps a distant second.
But there is some solid tennis being played in Region 1. Northridge, Layton, Syracuse and Fremont continue to battle in weekly dual matches.
In a recent Northridge-Layton dual -- a 3-2 victory for the Knights -- Four of the five matches went to three sets.
"The kids were exhausted, but so excited," Northridge coach Wayne Sumner said.
The Region 1 championships are set for April 30 and May 1, with the state 5-A championships set for May 11-12 at Libert Park.
While Davis is talented, old rival Viewmont as well as defending champion Brighton and Lone Peak and Bingham will figure in the team chase.
Juan Diego sophomore Brenden Kempin, who's ranked 50th nationally in his age group, is the favorite to claim the first singles title this year. He will, however, have some tough competition from Park City junior Kevin Colopy, who lost to Lyden in the semifinals in three sets last year.
Park City finished a distant second to Desert Hills last year, with Juan Diego in third. Along with Dixie, which drops down from 4A this year, all three hope to dethrone the two-time state champs.