PCHS boys’ tennis aiming for state title in 2017 | ParkRecord.com

PCHS boys’ tennis aiming for state title in 2017

Miners finished in second last year to Juan Diego

Park City High Schools Cole Lee returns a volley during a match last season. The senior is expected to take over the No. 1 singles slot this year for the Miners.

The Park City High School boys' tennis team was a force in Region 10 last season. Having faced each region team twice, the Miners got through region play unscathed, sweeping most matches.

This led to a second-place finish at the UHSAA 3A Boys Tennis Championships, just two points behind state champion Juan Diego.

This year, the team will have to move forward without former No. 1 singles player David Payne, but with a healthy mix of experienced returnees and up-and-coming freshmen, the Miners hope to make a leap to the top in 2017.

"We're looking good," Head Coach Hunter Nicholas said. "We brought in a crop of freshmen this year. We have seven to eight freshmen that have all actually been a part of our junior program at the PC MARC. It's kind of a long time coming."

Nicholas added that he doesn't see any holes in this year's lineup.

Leading the way for Park City is Cole Lee. With Payne gone, Nicholas anticipates Lee taking over the No. 1 singles position. But the spot is by no means safe. Over the course of the month leading up to the season, Lee and teammate Spencer Kunkel have battled each other twice on the court. Both times, the match went to a three-set tiebreaker.

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"Those two kids have been working really hard," Nicholas said. "Spencer's one of those kids that plays all year round, a full-timer. He probably spends more time than anyone else."

Kunkel's doubles partner from a season ago, Charlie Lambert, also returns and is expected to compete for a singles spot. Kunkel and Lambert won the No. 1 doubles state title last season. Additionally, Connor Burke, who got second in No. 3 singles in the state in 2016, also returns.

Joining some of the experience will be the group of freshmen, who aren't your ordinary first-year players. Much of the group has played tennis prior to high school, so Nicholas expects them to have a role on the team sooner rather than later.

"I foresee them making more of an impact on the doubles side of things," Nicholas said. "That's going to be nice to have."

While Region 10 was somewhat of a breeze for the Miners last year, Grantsville did finish right behind them at the state tournament in third place. Nicholas admits he isn't sure who in the region graduated and who is returning, but he's excited for the opportunity to take on Grantsville in the first match of the season on Tuesday.

"They were definitely a pretty good team last year, pretty deep," Nicholas said. "It'll be nice to play them first. Kind of right away, we're going to be able to sniff out the competition."

While winning another Region 10 title would be great, the Miners hope their experience on the court propels them to a state championship.

"I absolutely really like our chances," Nicholas said. "I think that match toughness really comes out in tournament play. When you've got to play two or three matches in a day, our kids are frankly quite used to that. That was definitely encouraging to see last year and I think it's something we're going to see this year."

The Miners will travel to Grantsville on Tuesday for the season opener. The match is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m.