Every year the question is asked among St. George-area high school tennis coaches: Who is going to be the team to beat this year?

With balmy weather most of the time and many open courts, the play quality is always high in southern Utah, and Desert Hills answered the above question Saturday with a surprising effort at the 4A state tournament at Liberty Park.

While the school colors are traditionally black and gold, first-year coach Christian Thurgood said more school teams are switching to purple, and the Thunder’s bold uniforms stood out after individual championships in No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles to hold off rival and two-time defending state champ Crimson Cliffs 45-42.

Orem finished third with 33 points, followed by Dixie (30) and Logan 25.

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4A state tournament final results

“We believed we could do it even though we weren’t the favorite,” said Thurgood, a former Cottonwood High tennis standout. “We won it with our confidence and camaraderie.

“They all really rose to the occasion and were focused and determined,” he added. “We didn’t end up winning region but we knew we could have. We ended up making a couple of adjustments to the lineup and it ended up paying off for us. Everybody played their role really well and accepted their role. It has been such a fun team to be part of.”

Playing under almost ideal weather conditions, the Thunder got a title in No. 3 singles from sixth-seeded Brenan Holman and then the team of Tyson Williams and William Gardner beat Logan’s Caleb Xu and Easton Jenkins in the day’s final match, which gave them enough points to take over the top spot.

Thurgood said he was particularly proud of Holman, who didn’t even make the varsity team last year.

“He made a big jump this year,” Thurgood said. “To win a state championship in his first year as varsity was pretty cool. I’m just really proud of the way that he played and handled his emotions.”

Jackson Holman also had a good weekend, picking up important points while making it all the way to the semifinals in No. 1 singles. This was a big step in his recovery after he suffered an injury while playing on the Thunder’s basketball team last winter.

“We weren’t even sure he would play (tennis) at all,” Thurgood said.

But it was enough to overcome the play of Crimson Cliffs stars Max and Adam Miner, who each won individual crowns in No. 1 and No. 2 singles.

The other athletes who left with a trophy were the Dixie team of Austin Beckstrom and Lincoln Crooks in No. 2 doubles.