Miners claim fifth straight title at State
Crowns were being passed out left and right, Burger King-style, at this year’s 3A State High School Tennis Championships at Brigham Young University. As usual, the defending state champion Park City High School boys tennis team walked away with a collection of championship hardware, but this time they had to share the title with Logan High School and individual honors were split among the Miners and the doubles teams from Pine View.
During the final two rounds on Saturday, the Miners’ fate seemed to come in threes. Heading into the day, Park City was tied with the Logan Grizzlies and knew that they would need to win in all three singles positions against Logan opponents to win the title outright. But they weren’t expecting two three-set matches, the last of which took three hot, grueling hours at the No. 2 position to determine where the state crown would end up.
Taylor Smith, in one of the most competitive positions in the championship, endured three fast, challenging sets with Pine View’s Sam Christensen 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2). The physical demands of that match sent a tired Smith into the finals for another tough matchup with Logan’s Alex Daines.
With the sun beating down on them, the boys battled into the early afternoon until Daines finally won in the third set 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to give the two teams a tie for the state title.
"My whole body was cramping," Smith said. "I just didn’t want to let down the team. It gives me something to strive for next year."
"He should feel like a champion, because he was up against a lot playing three sets in each match," Park City head coach Scooter Mastain said. "It was a long match. It would have taken it out of anybody."
In No. 1 singles, Hunter Nicholas showed off his talent sailing through the entire two-day event without dropping a set. In the finals against Logan’s Brandon Nielsen, Nicholas won 6-4, 6-3.
"I knew what I was up against coming in," said Nicholas, who beat Nielsen in the regular season. "There was still pressure, because the state championship was on the line."
No. 3 singles player Sam Miller also turned in an impressive performance winning the individual state title as a freshman. Miller was bothered by nagging shoulder pain in the semifinals, but endured through to the final round, where he beat the Grizzlies’ Jordan Ballam easily 6-3, 6-0.
"He was clutch," Mastain said. "His win took the pressure off everyone else."
Neither Park City doubles team was able to advance out of the semifinal rounds.
The Miners also beat their silent opponent the dynasty which is Park City tennis.
"Everyone was looking down on us," Miller said. "Just to win it was huge."
Even with a relatively young crop of talent, the Miners still managed to capture their fifth straight state championship and add one more trophy to case. That is, when it arrives. The Miners lost a coin toss that sent the original first place trophy back up north with the Grizzlies. A duplicate will be sent to Park City in the coming weeks.
"Its kind of neat to share it with somebody," Mastain said.
His players were a bit less enthusiastic.
"It doesn’t feel full," admitted Nicholas. "There’s definitely an empty space."
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