The Red Devils beat the Carbon Dinos 3-2, despite missing some of their veteran players. Sophomore Elijah Stocks stepped in to play No. 1 singles and won his set. Freshman Tommy Dewitt played the No. 2 singles slot and won in three sets. First-year tennis player Mac Sheryl played in the No. 3 singles slot, losing to his opponent in three sets.
Senior Macrae Olsen and freshman Derek Johnson played No. 1 doubles and won their match in straight sets. Freshmen Josh Raleigh and Austin Aubrey played the No. 2 doubles division, but lost their match. However, they played later in the day in the junior varsity doubles match and won that contest.
“It was really nice to get our first team win,” said head coach Ed Defrancia. “We did really well despite missing two of our players. We had our kids get out there and get some experience. They played some close matches; some of them won theirs really easily. We’re a very young team this year, but overall I think we played really well.”
Later in the week, the Red Devils traveled to Vernal to play Uintah High School, losing 4-1.
“[Uintah] is really good,” said Defrancia, “They’re a very strong team.”
Returning senior Kris Kemp played in the No. 1 singles division at that tournament, having been unable to attend the previous matches. Kemp lost his match against the Utes.
“Kris has had to be gone a lot so far,” said Defrancia, “so essentially this was his first match, and so he was kind of rough and his timing was off, but I think he’ll get back into it here before too long.”
In No. 3 singles, Dewitt had some “good, solid play,” according to Defrancia, but lost to his opponent as well.
In No. 1 doubles, Olsen and Johnson lost their first set, but improved in the second one. However, they were unable to defeat Uintah’s tough doubles teams. Sheryl and junior Alec Tatton teamed up in the No. 2 doubles slot, but hadn’t played together previously and lost their match.
Grand’s sole victory for the day was by sophomore Elijah Stocks, who lost his first set but came back in the second and third to win the No. 2 singles division.
Defrancia said he was very impressed with Stocks’ performance.
“Elijah just played incredibly well, and I’m really proud of him,” he said. “He had some good rallies, good pacing, but really what won him that match was that he never quits.”
As for the team as a whole, “all in all, we’re improving,” said Defrancia. “I’ve had people come up to me and tell me they’re amazed at how far our team has come in such a short time. We’re a very young team, so inexperience is our biggest weakness, and we’ve got a long way to go, but we’re improving, so I think it will be a fun season.”
Grand will play Gunnison and Manti at home on Thursday, April 11, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.