PCHS boys’ tennis takes third at state
Seniors Lee, Burke second in respective singles brackets
The Park City High School boys’ tennis team traveled to Salt Lake City on Friday and Saturday to compete in the UHSAA 3A state tournament at Liberty Park. The Miners, who cruised to a Region 10 title with dominant play all season long, knew that they’d see tougher competition over the weekend, especially from schools in Southern Utah.
While the southern schools were certainly competitive, it was the Bear River High School team that sits near the northern border of Utah that secured the 3A state title on Saturday afternoon. The Miners finished in third place, but were just a few momentum swings away from finishing first.
“We didn’t quite finish exactly where we wanted to in terms of result,” Park City head coach Hunter Nicholas said. “I’m proud of our guys for the effort they put forth and the attitude they showed and the character that they showed throughout the entire tournament. That’s what’s most important to me.”
Park City was led by its singles play, with senior Cole Lee leading the charge on the No. 1 court. Lee has impressed all season long, so it was no shock to see him reach the final, where he claimed second place after falling to Bear River’s Steffen Rigby, 6-3, 6-3.
In the No. 2 slot, fellow senior Connor Burke followed his teammate’s footsteps all the way to the final, but was met by a familiar name, Steffen Rigby’s younger brother, Keanu Rigby, of Bear River. Burke fell to Keanu Rigby 6-1, 6-1, earning another second place for Park City.
Both Lee and Burke will be missed moving forward, Nicholas said.
“We couldn’t have been luckier the last three years with Cole, four years with Connor, to have just solid guys, solid players and good teammates to continue to learn and push some of the younger guys,” Nicholas said.
The Miners’ third singles player was Spencer Kunkel, who wasn’t able to make it out of the semifinal round on the No. 3 court. The junior was just a few lucky bounces from being the only Park City player to claim a championship.
Kunkel met Ridgeline’s Jaxon Brenchley, a University of Utah basketball commit, in the semifinals of the No. 3 bracket. The two endured through a three-set thriller, where Kunkel fell to Brenchley 1-6, 6-0, 7-5. Brenchley would then go on to cruise to a No. 3 singles state title in the next round, where Nicholas believes Kunkel would’ve had the same result.
“It was kind of heartbreaking to see Spence come up short, as he had a lot of opportunities to win that semifinal match against Ridgeline,” Nicholas said. “That was tough to see, but it was a learning experience.”
In doubles play, the Miners’ didn’t fare as well. While the duo of Charlie Lambert and Alex Burkemper was able to reach its semifinal in the No. 1 doubles bracket, the No. 2 doubles team of Quinn Dicesaris and Colton Stephens fell in the first round, albeit to the eventual champion in the bracket.
Both doubles teams for Park City consist of younger players. Besides Lambert, who is a junior, the rest are underclassmen: Burkemper and Dicesaris are freshmen, while Stephens is a sophomore. This bodes well for Nichols and company in the future, despite knowing they’ll lose those two seniors at the top of the lineup.
“It’s going to be tough to replace the top two guys,” Nicholas said. “Those guys that were toward the bottom, kind of riding the edge of the lineup this year, are definitely going to step it up and be ready to come and play and get better for next year. I have no problem basically thinking that our lineup is essentially just going to shuffle up.”
Please see the Park Record photo gallery for pictures of Saturday’s competition.
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