The Grand County High School boys tennis team tied for fourth place overall out of seven teams at the 2A South divisional championship tournament held in Moab last Thursday and Friday, May 4 and 5.
The Red Devils qualified for state in two of the five brackets, with junior Elton Kunze-Jones and sophomore Braxten Pierce placing second in No. 1 doubles, and sophomore Kai Wainer taking third place in No. 2 singles.
“Our third singles and second doubles were each one match away and finished fifth,” noted GCHS’s first-year tennis coach Skylar Johnson. “We are a young team and we got a lot of good experience during the tournament.”
The Manti Templars won the divisional team title, taking first place in three brackets, including both No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. San Juan placed second overall, Gunnison was third, and Grand tied with Wasatch Academy for fourth place. Delta placed third in both doubles brackets and took sixth place overall, while winless South Sevier came in last.
In the No. 1 doubles bracket, Jones and Pierce started off with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Wasatch Academy’s Max Angerer and William Wang, followed by a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Gunnison’s Colby Stevens and Alexander Stewart. They then faced Manti’s Kaden Kirkman and Kevin Clark in the finals. The Manti duo prevailed, 6-3, 6-2, so Kunze-Jones and Pierce will head to state this coming weekend as a No. 2 seed in that doubles category.
In No. 2 singles, Wainer defeated Delta’s Taylor Tolbert in the opening round, 6-4, 6-3. Wainer then lost to San Juan’s Spencer Mitchell, 7-6 (7-2), 6-0. Mitchell went on to win the divisional title. Wainer later outlasted Wasatch Academy’s Ben Garwood, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, to capture third place.
In No. 3 singles, GCHS sophomore Tanner Mascaro placed fifth overall, losing 8-2 in a shortened pro-set match to San Juan’s Grange Simpson. Freshman Soren Indergard competed for Grand in No. 1 singles, but lost both of his matches.
In No. 2 doubles, Grand’s Cody Johnston and Kasey Kemp, both sophomores, lost their final match to Gunnison’s Teylor Pollack and Hunter Anderson, who prevailed in a three-set tiebreaker for fourth place, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8).
This coming Saturday, May 13, the Red Devils will travel to Salt Lake City’s Liberty Park to participate in the 1A/2A state tournament. Wainer will face Rowland Hall freshman Peter Chase, the 2A North’s No. 2 seed in the opening (quarterfinal) round of the second singles bracket, while Kunze-Jones and Pierce will face Rowland Hall’s Matthew O’Brien and Kenzo Okazaki in the opening round of the first doubles bracket.