The Grand County High School boys tennis team took a tough loss at its region competition last week, placing fifth overall and qualifying for state in only two of five divisions.
“Everybody went into the competition at sort of the middle seed, other than Elijah [Stock],” said head coach Ed DeFrancia, “and everybody ended up pretty much where they started, which was, unfortunately for many of them, out of the running for state.”
In the No. 1 singles division, GCHS senior Kris Kemp was listed as the sixth seed. He defeated the No. 3 seed, from San Juan High School, but lost the next three matches and finished the tournament ranked fifth, preventing him from qualifying for the state competition.
“It was nice that he could beat San Juan, and he improved his standing, but it was just inconsistent play,” DeFrancia said.
In No. 2 singles, Stock was the top seed, and had a bye his first round, allowing him a straight shot into the semifinals. However, the delay before his competition proved problematic.
“He had a long, long start before his match even began and he ended up getting severe leg cramps halfway through his second set,” DeFrancia said. “He was playing really well up to that point, but then that happened. He literally barely got through it ... But, he did win to get through to the championships ... He toughed it out, but he lost 6-0, 6-3. So, he ended up second, which was great; he’s only a sophomore.”
Freshman Tommy Dewitt played No. 3 singles, and was the fifth seed. Dewitt lost his first match, and lost again in the consolation bracket.
“He played well though, for him,” DeFrancia said. “He and I talked about it and honestly he’s got it figured out: he had poor shot selection, he was getting kind of adventurous when we’re thinking nope, he should stick with what works. But, he had some extremely close matches, which is really cool because it shows he’s competing.”
The two doubles teams followed nearly identical patterns. Both started out ranked as the fifth seed, lost but went into the consolation bracket to play for fourth place, the last slot to qualify for state. However, they lost there as well and finished fifth overall.
“They both went just about the full distance,” said DeFrancia. “In fact, our first doubles team, Macrae Olsen [senior] and Alec Tatton [sophomore] lost in a tiebreaker. Second doubles wasn’t as close, but they at least got there, which was good.”
However, Grand’s No. 1 doubles team had a stroke of good fortune when the No. 4 qualifying team from South Sevier elected not to compete, allowing Olsen and Tatton to advance to the state finals.
“They’re going to have their work cut out for them,” DeFrancia said of the state championship.
“It was a good season,” DeFrancia said. “We tied for fifth at region, out of seven, but we were only five points behind the second place finishers, so it was a really close region."
The team heads to Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 11, for the 2A tennis state tournament. Play is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m.