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High school tennis: Slight favorite Brighton faces uncertainty in 5A state tournament

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Redd Owen from Brighton High School takes a break from his match with Micah Heimuli from Lone Peak High School during the 5A Boy's Tennis 1st Singles Finals at the Liberty Park Tennis Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

Redd Owen from Brighton High School takes a break from his match with Micah Heimuli from Lone Peak High School during the 5A Boy’s Tennis 1st Singles Finals at the Liberty Park Tennis Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

Nicole Boliaux, Deseret News

The 5A state tournament kicks off this Friday at Liberty Park, and because of UHSAA realignment there’s more uncertainty than there’s been in recent years.

Many of the teams are familiar with each other, but Brighton and Viewmont dropping down a classification certainly changes the landscape. In fact, it’s created a new front-runner as Brighton opens the tournament as the slight favorite.

Brighton qualified three of its positions as the No. 1 seed — including last year’s 5A first singles champion Redd Owen — and then the other two as No. 2 seeds.

Brighton got plenty of competition from Timpview in region play, as the teams split their region duals, with Brighton then winning the pseudo-tiebreaker at region.

Outside of Region 7, Brighton coach Natalie Meyer acknowledged that her team isn’t too familiar with the other regions.

“Only preseason we played was Lone Peak, and they’re in 6A. We know of some of the players because they travel to some of the tournaments like my top players,” Meyer said.

One of those top players is Skyline’s Connor Robb-Wilcox. He won the 4A first singles championship as a freshman last season, but unfortunately he won’t be defending his title this week.

Robb-Wilcox is skipping this year’s state tournament to participate in a national tournament in Oklahoma this weekend.

“It’s kind of a bummer and he feels really bad. But when you get into these national tournaments and you’re trying to go for a full-ride scholarship to colleges, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” said Skyline coach Lani Wilcox, who is also Robb-Wilcox’s mother.

His absence isn’t the only reason Skyline isn’t a threat to repeat after winning last year’s state championship. Skyline’s first doubles team didn’t qualify for state because both competitors missed last weekend’s region tournament because of AP and IB testing.

Those two voids make repeating next to impossible, but coach Wilcox expects her remaining players to compete against anyone, “because I always stress having fun first.”

Despite Robb-Wilcox’s absence, Brighton’s Owen should still get some tough competition at first singles. On his half of the bracket is a talented freshman from Woods Cross, Spencer Johnson, who went 8-0 in region play. Another threat is Maple Mountain senior Daniel Blonquist.

In the lower half of the bracket, Provo’s Gutavo Kerber went undefeated in region play and is a very talented player. Two other players who could make some noise are Corner Canyon’s Jenson Rideout and Timpview’s Josh Pearce, who finished second and third respectively at Region 7 behind Owen.

As a team, Woods Cross qualified all of its positions as the No. 1 seed from Region 5, and it might have the best chance at upsetting Brighton. It’s not the only potential contender, though, as Olympus, Timpview and Maple Mountain all have strong teams that hope to compete.

5A state tournament

Friday at Liberty Park

First singles

Upper bracket

Drew Hartsfield, Olympus vs. Austin Beckstead, Timpanogos

Redd Owen, Brighton vs. JD Gardner, Box Elder

Spencer Johnson, Woods Cross vs. Nicholas Colt, Jordan

Daniel Blonquist, Maple Mountain vs. Daichi Masuki, Highland

Lower bracket

Nate McDonald, Viewmont vs. Josh Pearce, Timpview

Gustavo Kerber, Provo vs. TBD

Ethan Dubil, West vs. Phoenix Hafen, Wasatch

Jenson Rideout, Corner Canyon vs. Sam Stobbe, Bountiful

Second singles

Upper bracket

Saul Esplin, Timpview vs. Aiden Chenney, Murray

Tennyson Whiting, Maple Mountain vs. Trent Cannon, Box Elder

Jakob Kempema, Woods Cross vs. Jackson Harris, Timpanogos

Parker Warner, Olympus vs. Tristan Buckner, Corner Canyon

Lower bracket

Colton Christensen, Viewmont vs. Cooper Jenkins, Wasatch

Adrian Wilde, Skyline vs. Ryan Woodhead, Alta

Mitch Smith, Brighton vs. Chase Peterson, East

Ethan Bird, Springville vs. Jason Murdock, Bountiful

Third singles

Upper bracket

Derek Turley, Brighton vs. Garrett Lindsey, Springville

Holden Iverson, Woods Cross vs. Will Dale, Highland

Cole Marshall, Olympus vs. Carter Ellis, Box Elder

Caden Petersen, Provo vs. Tyler Easton, Corner Canyon

Lower bracket

Grant Wilkinson, Viewmont vs. Brad Smith, Skyline

Cadyn Brown, Timpview vs. Ben McCullough, Wasatch

Hudson Roney, Maple Mountain vs. Jacob Beck, Alta

Paul Parkin, East vs. Bennett Thompson, Bountiful

First doubles

Upper bracket

Hayden Carter/Will Kendall, Skyline vs. Trevor Bond/Carson Clark, Wasatch

Parker Watts/Jared Hunt, Brighton vs. Andrew Wood/Jordan Carr, Box Elder

Peter Richards/Josh Lewis, Woods Cross vs. Rhet Turley/Ashton Renfro, Alta

Jake Prothero/Emmitt Pigott, Maple Mountain vs. Tanner Hunt/Michael Jewkes, Murray

Lower bracket

Stephen Gutke/Jaden Hodges, Viewmont vs. Max Roberts/Drew Osbourne, Corner Canyon

Jake Lambert/Seth Lambert, Skyridge vs. Abram Toronto/McKay Bradford, Highland

Robbie Ballam/Ellis Ivory, Olympus vs. Allen Otterstrom/Johnny Astle, Provo

Emmet Hart/Jorun Christianson, Timpview vs. Jens Mickelson/Mitchell Felix

Second singles

Upper bracket

Blair Glade/Justin Allen, Brighton vs. Zach Moore/Mike Grant, East

Garrett Rusick/Carson Stagg, Skyridge vs. Scott Black/Segio Alba, Box Elder

Tyler Cowley/Mason Cowley, Woods Cross vs. Chandler Dukes/Kade Thompson

Jake Bauman/Cole Smith, Highland vs. RJ Bonds/William Pearson, Alta

Lower bracket

Ryan Trump/Isaak Getz, Viewmont vs. Sam Lindsey/Andrew Hammond, Springville

Ethan Stanger/Sawyer Peterson, Olympus vs. Caleb Wiggins/Jason Fridley, Jordan

Barrett Kawa/Jake Larsen, Timpview vs. Colton Rodgers/Alex Smith, Murray

Andrew Cardon/Jake Fryer, Maple Mountain vs. Alex Eyring/Michael Ebert, Bountiful