PCHS Tennis sends seven to state
When Brian Tillman moved to Park City before his sophomore year of high school, he was a basketball player. He met JT Mellecker on the court and the two struck up a friendship immediately.
Off the court, the two started spending more time together.
"We had biology together, too," Mellecker said. "We started hanging out a lot, then something clicked and we became super-good friends."
Nearly three years later, as seniors wrapping up their Park City High School careers, Tillman and Mellecker are making noise on a different type of court as they prepare for the state tennis tournament May 17-18 in St. George.
After missing his sophomore tennis season with concussion problems, Mellecker returned his junior year, but didn’t team up with Tillman until this year.
Tillman said he and his teammate have had no problem getting used to each other’s tendencies.
"A lot of times you hear that friends in real life don’t make the best partners," he said. "But our coach was saying it was a really good team we’ve got here."
Mellecker added that all the time they spend together off the court makes it easier to predict where the other one will be on the court.
"We have a good connection where we can finish each other’s sentences mid-match," he said. "Or we can switch sides of the court without saying anything to each other. Not a lot of people have that."
The duo, filling the No. 2 doubles slot for the Miners, finished second at the Region 10 tournament at the PC MARC on Saturday. They lost a tough final match 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Wasatch.
But they, along with all their teammates, managed to qualify for the state tournament. No. 1 singles player Matt Groy finished fourth at region, earning a 6-1, 6-4 win over a Union player in his final match. No. 2 singles player Rawson Simmons finished third, scoring a 6-3, 6-0 win over Judge in the third-place match. Jason Barth (No. 3 singles) finished fourth and the No. 1 doubles team of Graham Petersen and Zach Jackson claimed third place.
Tillman and Mellecker said their biggest goal this week is to mentally prepare for the level of competition they’ll face in St. George.
"We just have to keep our heads clear and positive," Tillman said.
But the friends don’t anticipate that being too much of a problem.
"That’s another good thing about being friends," Mellecker said. "We can lift each other up easier."
"We both have our ups and downs," Tillman added. "We have to calm each other down and equal out our mental states."
But, no matter the result at state, they are just happy to be finishing up their careers on the same court, no matter what sport is being played.
On a rainy Monday afternoon in Park City, with tennis practice moved inside, Mellecker and Tillman were back on the basketball court. This time, however, they were practicing backhands and serves, not layups and jump shots.
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Park City is the lone undefeated team in Region 10 play after a 60-30 win over Mountain View. The Miners have three more region games in their quest to repeat as region champions.