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COLTS IN 1ST, BUT THEY'LL HAVE TO HOLD OFF BENGALS

Despite the fact that Cottonwood stands in first place and is the only team to advance each of its five entrants into today's action, the Colts aren't necessarily the favorite in the 4A tennis tournament at Liberty Park.

Brighton, the defending champion and pre-tournament favorite, is just a point behind the Colts, with more experienced players heading into the semifinals, which will be played at 10 a.m. today with the finals at 2 p.m.After the first two rounds of play Friday, Cottonwood has 10 points, followed by Brighton with nine, Highland with seven and Hillcrest and Bonneville with six apiece. But only the Colts and Bengals have legitimate chances to win the 4A title as none of the other teams have more than three entrants left.

"We have the inside track," said Cottonwood's third-year Coach Blake Maddox, "but we still have to beat them (Brighton) in head-to-head matches."

The Colts have already won a head-to-head meeting with the Bengals, winning a second-round match in No. 1 doubles when Jason Ritchie and Chris Neddo beat Jason Newell and Tom Abbott 6-3, 6-3.

However, the Bengals have the defending champions still alive in No. 2 and No. 3 singles and defending runner-up in No. 1 singles. If those three players win, then the Colts would need to sweep the doubles and do well in the other semis to have a shot at winning. Today's matches are worth two points apiece, instead of one like on Friday.

"Tomorrow's semifinals matches will tell a lot," said Brighton Coach Larry Yates. "We'll win it if we win all of our matches. But now we can't afford an upset."

Brighton's top player, Darrin Mansell, after winning his first match by default, had to go three sets to beat Bonneville's Shelby Saberon, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. He'll meet East's Jason Nielson, who advanced with wins over Chris Rosander of Skyline and Ryan Grant of Granger.

The other bracket in No. 1 singles will pit Cottonwood's David Thayne against Hillcrest's Jan Timaker. Thayne cruised to a pair of easy wins, while Timaker, an exchange student from Sweden, had perhaps the biggest upset of the day in defeating Mountain View's Lance Squire, 6-4, 6-4.

In No. 2 singles, Cottonwood's Jason Goodson will meet East's Royal Hansen, while Brighton's Chris Reilly will play Bonneville's Kurt Snedeker. Reilly, the defending champion, had no trouble in winning his matches, losing just one game.

Brighton's Drake Vincent, also a defending champion, had no trouble in winning his two matches in No. 3 singles. He'll play Tona Colotla of Taylorsville in the semifinals. The other bracket has Cottonwood's Matt Goodson meeting Highland's T.J. Buxton, who was a winner in No. 2 doubles last year.

Highland's No. 1 doubles team of Brad Harris and Brigham Whitney had to win two three-set matches to advance to the semis, where they'll meet Hillcrest's Scott Clark and Stewart Weichers. Bonneville's Ken Nguyen and Chris Nelson meet Cottonwood's Ritchie and Neddo in the other semi.

Brighton's Scott Vincent and Christian Pond go against Highland's Brandon Earl and Mark Dial in one semifinal, while Cottonwood's Richy Lambert and Travis Jenson play Hillcrest's Garrett Burbidge and Mike Bryant in the other.