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Dixie ends 22-year drought with narrow win for 4A state boys tennis title

SHARE Dixie ends 22-year drought with narrow win for 4A state boys tennis title
Dixie’s Luke Jolley, wearing blue, serves a ball

Dixie’s Luke Jolley serves a ball as he and Crimson Cliffs’ Maxwell Miner play in Semifinal play of the High School 4A boys state tennis championships at Liberty Park Tennis in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Miner went on to take the championship.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Coming in the season, it had been 22 years since the Dixie boys tennis team had won a state championship.

Thanks to a little help, the Flyers didn’t need any longer.

Gavin Bishop provided the necessary singles crown Saturday afternoon, and the team of Ari Fackrell and Austin Beckstrom also won in No. 1 doubles, and that was enough for them to claim a narrow win in the 4A state tournament on a warm, sunny afternoon at Liberty Park.

Dixie earned 42 points, compared to 40 for St. George neighbor Crimson Cliffs. Ridgeline had 39 and Desert Hills and Green Canyon tied for fourth place with 22. 

A new scoring system implemented this year awarded more points for each successive round, so individual players or doubles teams earned four points if they won their semifinal match, then five more for winning the final. The hope was to help prevent a tie for first place, which occurred last year between Crimson Cliffs, Ridgeline and Green Canyon.

It worked — barely. It was a four-team race after the opening day Thursday, then Bishop’s win in No. 3 singles provided nine points and Luke Jolley, a state champ at Crimson Cliffs last year, added four more by making the finals in No. 1 singles. 

By mid-afternoon, Crimson Cliffs held a slight lead but had finished all of its matches, while Dixie still had a say in doubles action. When Fackrell and Beckstrom downed Snow Canyon’s Braden Koch/Bryce Jensen, it boosted the Flyers into the lead and their 22-year drought ended.

“Getting everybody into the semis was huge,” said Dixie coach Christian Wright, the former Utah State University coach who is in his first year at Dixie. “We have a good team and didn’t really fly under the radar. Everybody was gunning for us, so it feels good to finish like this.”

“We had high expectations,” said Fackrell, a senior who was the top seed in doubles. “It has been fun to play on this team this year. I got to know everyone well and we played off each other’s successes.”

It was never easy, though. Crimson Cliffs, the 4A champ in 2021 and co-champ last year, got individual titles from Maxwell Miner and Adam Miner (over Ridgeline opponents), to nearly win it again.

Green Canyon’s team of Zach Crane/Carson Shakespear won the other title, rallying for a win in No. 2 doubles.

4A boys tennis tournament

At Liberty Park

Saturday’s results

Team scores

   1, Dixie 42. 2, Crimson Cliffs 40. 3, Ridgeline 39. 4, Desert Hills, Green Canyon 22. 6, Snow Canyon 16. 7, Logan 8. 8, Bear River, Pine View, Sky View 4. 11, Cedar City, Mountain Crest 2.

Individual results

   No. 1 singles – Maxwell Miner (Crimson Cliffs) def. Luke Jolley (Dixie) 6-1, 6-3. Dillon Johnson (Ridgeline) def. Jaden Wittwer (Desert Hills) 6-0, 6-0. Championship: Miner def. Johnson 0-6, 6-2, 6-0.

   No. 2 singles – Adam Miner (Crimson Cliffs) def. Jackson Holman (Desert Hills) 6-2, 6-1. Thatcher Ellis (Ridgeline) def. Caleb Kroll (Dixie) 6-2, 6-1. Championship: Miner def. Ellis 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.

   No. 3 singles – Gavin Bishop (Dixie) def. Nathan Bentley (Crimson Cliffs) 6-1, 5-7, 6-0. Davis Low (Ridgeline) def. Brexan Wittwer (Desert Hills) 6-0, 6-0. Championship: Bishop def. Low 6-0. 6-1.

   No. 1 doubles – Austin Beckstrom/Ari Fackrell (Dixie) def. Taggart McCullough/Kayson Reeder (Ridgeline) 6-0, 6-1. Braden Koch/Bryce Jensen (Snow Canyon) def. Jeffrey Purcell/William Gardner (Desert Hills) 6-4, 6-2. Championship: Beckstrom/Fackrell def. Koch/Jensen 7-5, 6-2.

   No. 2 doubles – Zach Crane/Carson Shakespear (Green Canyon) def. Bryce/Christiansen/Andrew Ord (Snow Canyon) 6-3, 6-2. Garrett Bishop/Michael Winward (Dixie) def. Ty Durst/Chase Faldmo (Crimson Cliffs) 3-1 (withdraw). Championship: Crane/Shakespear def. Bishop-Winward 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 (2).