Miners boys tennis takes third in state championship tournament
The Park City High School Miners boys tennis team finished third overall in the Class 4A state championship at the Liberty Park Tennis Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12.
Orem High School won the competition, taking first in all three singles tournaments.
“They kind of ran away with it,” Miners head coach Hunter Nicholas said.
Nevertheless, Nicholas said he was proud of the team.
“When the pressure was on and it came down to it, they played their hardest,” he said. “They fought hard and, as a coach, all you can ask for is a good attitude and good effort. They all showed that in the tournament, and for that I was proud of them.”
Senior Charlie Lambert and sophomore Quin DiCesaris won the first doubles competition for PCHS – the team’s highest finish of the tournament.
The duo defeated competitors from Hurricane, Payson, Pine View and Orem to win their division, a victory Nicholas said had been a long time coming.
“They’d been playing well,” he said. “I knew the potential for them to put together some really good tennis was there, and at state they just did it.”
He said Lambert and DiCesaris were aggressive and committed to winning.
“They didn’t back down for one second, so that was great to see,” Nicholas said.
In second doubles, freshman Will Efrusy and junior Ethan Davis took on Ian Chiniquy and Hunter Chiniquy of Orem in the first round, losing 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
“They fought hard but didn’t quite execute,” Nicholas said of the Park City team. “So it was frustrating for them. I think they realized they could have been playing a lot better if they had brought that type of energy and attitude toward every one of their matches instated of trying to turn it on like a light switch.”
It was the second year in a row the second doubles team lost in the first round of the state championship tournament.
“But our (team), they really turned it on in that first round,” Nicholas said.
The Golden Tigers’ Chiniquy brothers reached the semifinals before losing to Mitchell Erekson and Hyrum Sorensen of Pine View. Jake Hardy and Justin Davidson of Desert Hills won the second doubles tournament.
In third singles, Miner freshman Bautista Mantoni reached the semifinals after defeating opponents from Dixie and Logan. He was put out of the tournament by senior Tanner Reese of Orem, who went on to win the third singles tournament.
In second singles, PCHS sophomore Alex Burkemper also reached the semifinals, defeating opponents from Dixie and Spanish Fork. Burkemper was defeated by Jason Cheney of Salem Hills, who was in turn defeated by champion Christian Craig of Orem.
“In my opinion, from a ball striking standpoint, I think they had both of their opponents beaten,” Nicholas said or Mantoni and Burkemper. “But to Orem and Salem Hills’ credit, they had a couple of guys that fought really hard and played good defense, and that proved too much for our guys.”
In first singles, Miners senior Spencer Kunkell defeated Stefan Balian of Dixie 6-3, 1-6, 7-5, then fell to senior Ryan Cheney of Ridgeline 6-3, 6-2.
Nicholas said Kunkell had been struggling to play with strength and find the right mindset in the recent matches, but achieved those things during Thursday’s competition.
“It was just too little too late,” he said. “But I was really proud of him. He went out giving everything he had and that’s something to condone.”
Orem took first in the tournament with 24 points, followed by Salem Hills with 12 and Park City with 11.
Though the team had some tough losses, the first doubles finals was the last match of the tournament, and Lambert and DiCesaris’ win lifted the team’s spirits.
“Even though we finished third, it felt higher,” Nicholas said. “It felt good to finish on the right side, on a high note.”
Lambert, Kunkell and third doubles player Trevor Feldkircher are scheduled to graduate at the end of the school year.
“We’ve got a couple really strong players coming in next year, so as far as the program goes, things are looking up,” Nicholas said. “We’re always sad to lose our seniors but we do a great job of continuing to grow and looking forward to the future.”
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