With everything up in the air at the top of both divisions, there should be two thrilling state tennis tournaments at the 3A and 4A levels this weekend.
The Logan Grizzlies are the favorite to repeat in 3A, but should face stiff competition from last year's second-place finisher, Park City, as well as Judge Memorial and Juan Diego. Last year's 1A/2A champion Waterford (which tied for the title with Rowland Hall) is also in the 3A mix this year and could wreak some havoc.
The Grizzlies faced the Park City Miners earlier this season in a 3A/4A tournament in Logan and beat them, but after finishing second only to Logan among 3A teams at that tourney, Park City head coach Scooter Mastain remains undaunted.
"We're definitely going to be contenders for the state championship. I've seen our desire to win throughout the entire season," Mastain said. "For me, Logan is our biggest adversary. We are looking forward to hopefully hunting them down and sticking it to them."
The Miners and Grizzlies matched up in all the singles finals last season, while now-4A Pine View took both doubles crowns. Although facing a rebuilding year, Waterford has been a perennial powerhouse at the 1A/2A level and could throw a wrench into the 3A results in all five areas.
"I think our region is the strongest and I'm hopeful that our first and second singles players can get into the mix at region and get a decent seed at state," Waterford coach Ken Wade said. "I think any given day they can be competitive with most anyone."
At the 4A level, the favorite has to be five-time straight state champion Timpview. The last two seasons, the top three have been Timpview, Highland and Cottonwood (with Highland and Cottonwood flip-flopping second place the two years). These three teams should be at the top again this year, but southern enigma Pine View, moving up from 3A, is one of the unknown factors in the contest. The Panthers won both doubles competitions at 3A state last year.
"I haven't heard a word about the southern teams, but you never know. They have that weather down there," Highland coach Mark Foote said. "The team I've heard the most about is Timpview. They're definitely the team to beat."
Timpview will be bidding for its sixth straight title and eighth title in the last 10 years. The T-Birds return the starters to all seven spots, including last year's state champion in second singles, Cal Larson. Larson's competitor in last season's final, Sutton Shackelford from Highland, is also back, which should make for a highly competitive bracket.
First singles will also be very intense. Last year's winner, Highland sophomore Devon Lane, returns and so does Timpview's Tanner Perry, who was ousted in the quarterfinals last year. Besides Perry, strong players who could potentially spoil Lane's bid to repeat include East's Brad Weaver, Cottonwood's Matt Sweet and Orem's Collin Black.
Between last year's team runner-ups, Highland beat Cottonwood in region play and at the region tournament, so at state it could turn into a two-horse race between Highland and Timpview down the stretch. Foote still expects stiff competition from the Colts during the state tourney, though.
"I think Cottonwood has a good team and will be competitive. They were tough. East also has really good players," Foote said. "It should be pretty exciting."