PCHS boys’ tennis starts year with big win
The Park City High School boys’ tennis team got its season off to a strong start on Tuesday afternoon at the PC MARC. Squaring off against 4A Wasatch, a former Region 10 foe, the Miners were anxious to avenge last year’s loss to the Wasps.
It was a tight match, but the Miners were able to pull out a 3-2 victory thanks to wins in the No. 2 and No. 3 singles matches and the No. 1 doubles match.
No. 2 singles player Cole Lee, a junior, defeated Wasatch player Phoenix Hafen 6-3, 6-2. Park City Coach Tamarin Espinoza said she’s been thrilled with Lee’s play this offseason.
"Cole has come leaps and bounds since last year," she said. "He is by far the most athletic kid on this team. We kind of pushed him a little bit fitness-wise and he is blowing these kids out of the water. I’m hoping they see it and it pushes them a little bit. He’s made the transition [from No. 1 doubles] to singles seamlessly. He wanted it."
At No. 3 singles, Park City’s Connor Burke shut out Wasatch’s Brandon Baird 6-0, 6-0. At No. 1 doubles, Brennan French and Spencer Kunkel of Park City took down their opponents in three sets — 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
Though No. 1 singles player David Payne, a senior, lost his match to Wasatch’s Lincoln Wasden 6-2, 6-4, Espinoza said it was a strong showing for Payne in his first match of the year.
"He played a great match," she said. "[Wasden] transferred from St. Louis, Missouri, and he actually trains here with our kids but attends Wasatch. We knew him pretty well coming in. David’s a captain and he’s a senior and one thing I know about David Payne is he will go out there and give it his all. That’s exactly what he did. The first set was a little cut and dry, but the second set, David gave him a fight."
At No. 2 doubles, Charlie Lambert and Hans Nilsson fell in three sets to Wasatch’s Spencer Straddeck and Ty Fagg, 7-5, 1-6, 6-2.
Espinoza said starting the year off on the right foot is important, especially against a bigger school.
"It’s always nice to, one, start the season off with a win and, two, start it off by beating a rival — especially one that got us last year," she said.
As the Miners prepare for a tournament in St. George this weekend, Espinoza said she’ll be looking to see which doubles teams emerge with the most chemistry.
"It’s just about match play," she said. "In doubles, we’re going to mess with some pairings. We just have to find who meshes well. I really have no idea how this is going to shake out."
No matter who ends up at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles, Espinoza said the Miners have plenty of depth. That will serve the team well in Region 10 play, when a No. 3 doubles slot is added to the mix.
"I’m actually really excited for that in the boys’ case because we have Jack Wright and Jack Lecher, who need to get the experience," she said. "Same with Hans Nilsson. That’ll help us figure out who’s going to state in that No. 2 doubles spot."
This is the Miners’ first year playing in a region with Stansbury, Tooele and Grantsville. Espinoza said she expects Park City to compete for a region title.
"It’s going to come down to Park City and Grantsville again," she said. "On the boys’ side, Union does have some pretty good players. They give us a good run for our money. Stansbury isn’t bad. I don’t know if they have any new talent coming in, though. For Tooele, I’m kind of going in blind. I don’t know anything about Tooele."
On the 3A statewide level, Espinoza said Park City should be a top-five team. But, she added, it’s going to take a season of strong teamwork to get the Miners on the same level as other top squads like Snow Canyon, Juan Diego, Logan and Desert Hills.
"These guys just have to come together and work as a team," she said. "Tennis is an individual sport, but in this case, it’s not. Right now, we’ve got to figure out how to blend those seven to nine spots into working together and figuring out how to put ego aside. Everyone needs to play their part — that will help a ton."
The Miners’ next home match is scheduled for Thursday, March 31, against Region 10 opponent Union. The match will begin at 3:30 p.m. at the PC MARC.
Park City Boys’ Tennis Schedule
March 19 — at St. George Invitational
March 24 — at Mountain Crest
March 29 — at Stansbury
March 31 — vs. Union
April 11 — vs. Grantsville
April 12 — at Tooele
April 14 — vs. Stansbury
April 18 — at Timpview
April 19 — at Union
April 25 — at Judge Memorial
April 26 — at Grantsville
April 28 — vs. Tooele
May 5-6 — Region 10 Tournament
May 13-14 — 3A State Tournament
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The Miners ended up on the wrong side of a close game on senior night but are still fighting for playoff seeding.