Miners boys tennis takes state title with third-singles win
On Saturday, the Park City Miners boys tennis team took the Class 4A state title when sophomore Will Efrusy defeated Bonneville’s senior Brecken Bernard in the third singles championship at Liberty Park in three sets.
Efrusy knew the Miners boys tennis team’s state championship bid rested on his shoulders as his match against Bernard stretched out.
Efrusy had been there before: it was his second three-set match on day two of the tournament, and one of many over the course of the season, including his win for the Region 11 championship over Bernard on May 8, when he beat him 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Efrusy and the team had played so many long matches this season that it became a known phenomenon for the Miners.
“It initially was a problem closing out, but it became a team anthem: Don’t quit, no quit,” Efrusy said. “It’s just been a rallying call. Ever since then it’s been about going to the third set if you have to. Even if you drop the first set, come back, fight; fight ‘til the end. That’s been the mentality here.”
Bernard had been there as well. He had defeated Landon Brenchley of Ridgeline 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the finals.
Bernard and Efrusy’s match was imbued with the weight of the state title after Park City sophomore Tucker Lee lost a lengthy match of his own in second singles (straight sets, but with a protracted tie breaker in the second), tying the Lakers and Miners at 17 points each.
If the Lakers’ second doubles team won and Efrusy lost, Bonneville would win the title. If Efrusy won and the Lakers’ second doubles team won, which seemed likely early on in his match against Bernard, the two teams would tie.
Efrusy had heard about his team’s predicament after dropping the second set of the match, and suffering a leg cramp.
Halfway through the third set, while Bernard was being treated on the court for his own muscle cramps, Effrsusy saw that Bonneville’s second doubles team had lost, meaning the tournament hinged on him – if he won, the Miners won. If he lost, the Miners lost.
Efrusy used that fire – the knowledge of his team’s hard work – and pumped himself up after every point by shouting what has become something of a mantra for Efrusy: “Let’s go!”
“He’s always been one of our more fired up players,” Lee said of Efrusy. “He plays with a lot of emotion and he definitely lets it show out there on the court.”
His passion was not without controversy on Saturday. Sometimes the official interpreted his shouts as inappropriate for the competition at Liberty Park. Efrusy also received a point violation for racket abuse. After a conversation with both players, the official seemed to accept Efrusy’s energy.
“Hey, he fires himself up,” coach Dillon Bunt explained. “Rafa (Rafael Nadal) says ‘Vamos’; Will says ‘Let’s go.’”
Bernard took two games in the third set, but Efrusy came back to win 6-2, earning a personal state title and a team state title. “Let’s go” was the victory cry the team gave upon winning.
“I can’t really remember what happened,” Efrusy said. “I knew I had four points to go, two points to go, one point to go, then it just … went into the net. I knew it was over.”
Efrusy, who moved to Park City from Palo Alto, California, before eighth grade, had spent this season dedicating himself to the sport after falling short of his goals last season. He had wanted to play in a varsity singles spot, but didn’t make the cut, and ended up playing second doubles, where he and now-senior Ethan Davis were eliminated in the first round of the state tournament.
“I was in the gym three times a week just trying to get that focus, and it feels really good for it to pay off,” he said.
As for the state title, Bunt said it was the ideal end to an amazing season.
“My first season (coaching Park City), and I couldn’t ask for more,” he said. “I’m lucky to have fantastic players who played how they played today.”
Applegate takes first
Prior to Efrusy’s title-sealing victory, dominant Park City freshman Dylan Applegate defeated senior Ryan Jeppson of Green Canyon, the Region 12 No. 1 seed, to win the first singles title 6-2, 6-3. Applegate, who competes in high-level national tournaments, said it was as close as he had gotten to losing all season in high school play.
Bunt said it was also one of his best matches as a Miner so far.
“It’s good to see him kind of … just open up and really swing out and play to his fullest ability,” Bunt said.
Applegate had cruised to the finals. He defeated senior Landon Disbrow of Spanish Fork 6-1, 6-0 in the first round, then junior Taylor Heinz of Snow Canyon 6-0, 6-1 in the second round, and finally junior Stefan Balian of Dixie 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals.
Applegate described Jeppson as a well-rounded player.
“He’s got a very good serve, good volleys, good ground strokes,” he said. “But his backhand was his big weakness. I just tried to break down the backhand and get to the net and put the ball away.”
The freshman said he felt comfortable after the first set, and was confident he had secured the match after earning a 4-2 lead in the second set. He said he had enjoyed playing with the team this season, and that while the state championship was a relatively low priority in the scheme of his tennis career, he liked being a Miner and found the team’s support beneficial to his game.
Tough loss for Lee
Lee lost 10-8 in the tiebreaker against Bonneville senior Andrew McCall in the second doubles final round. Lee had defeated McCall in the Region 11 championship, but was coming off a lengthy match against senior Dylan Jenkins of Logan, who he defeated 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 that morning.
When he reached the finals round, his game was starting to come apart.
“I knew I could beat him but I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy match,” Lee said. “From the start I was missing too many balls in the net – a lot of forehands. It’s the strength of my game but I never really got it going.”
He lost the first set 6-1, but took McCall to a tie breaker in the second, which was full of its own twists and turns.
“I think he had two or three match points and I had a set point at like 8-7,” Lee said.
The Miners’ No. 1 doubles team, freshman Dallen Dicesaris and junior Quinn Dicesaris, fell to junior Mitchell Erekson and senior Jon Fairbanks of Pine View in the semifinals 7-6 (5), 6-4. The brothers had fought hard for their position, defeating Dixie seniors Ethan Emerson and Morgan Rawlings 6-3, 7-5 in the second round of the tournament to make the semifinals, and senior Logan Peterson and junior Logan Mahrt of Uintah 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4 in the first round.
Erekson and Fairbanks went on to win the first doubles tournament, defeating Desert Hills seniors Logan and Matt Seegmiller 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
The Miners’ second doubles team, senior Colton Stephens and junior Alex Burkemper, advanced to the second round after defeating Green Canyon seniors Jordan Broadbent and Kaden Pierson, 6-1, 6-1. They were knocked out in the second round by senior Gibson Crawford and junior Jared Sudweeks of Pine View, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4. Crawford and Sudweeks went on to win the title over Bonneville seniors Sam Hendrickson and Gavin Kofford, 7-5, 4-6, 6-0.
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With over 90 teams and 1,100 athletes, the Triple Crown Fastpitch World Series returns to Park City this week 16U and 18U tournaments.