The Grand County boys tennis team split a pair of matches against region foes Thursday, April 11 in Moab, defeating Gunnision 3-2 and falling to Manti 4-1.
Sophomore Elijah Stock led the Red Devil charge, winning both of his No. 2 singles matches, defeating his Gunnison opponent 6-3, 6-0 and his Manti opponent 6-2, 6-3.
The No. 1 doubles duo of Macrae Olsen and Alec Tatton defeated Gunnison 6-2, 6-3 and went to the wire against Manti’s No. 1 doubles tandem, losing the first set 6-4 before winning the second set 6-3. They were tied at 4-4 in the decisive third set before the Templars earned the set’s final two points to take the set 6-4 and win the match.
“It was a very good game,” Olsen said. “We came back in the second set and just kept fighting.”
Olsen has had numerous different partners in doubles play throughout his high school tennis career, which he said doesn’t bother him.
“It’s a bit hard,” Olsen said. “But whoever my partner is, I know we’ll do well.”
Olsen, who dabbled in singles play early in the season when the tennis team was shorthanded, said both doubles and singles have their pros and cons.
“I do like doubles play for the bigger court,” he said. “But I also like the head-to-head competition in singles play.”
Olsen said he is confident that he and Tatton can compete with anyone at the 2A level.
“Considering Manti took state last year, I feel like we stack up really well against the competition,” he said.
The No. 2 doubles team of Derek Johnson and Mack Sherrill also defeated Gunnison and lost to Manti, beating the Bulldogs 6-2, 6-3 and losing to the Templars 6-4, 6-2.
Kris Kemp struggled to find his game after being stricken with the flu, Red Devil boys tennis coach Ed DeFrancia said, losing to Gunnison 6-2, 6-1 and Manti 6-0, 6-0.
“Kris just had no energy whatsoever,” DeFrancia said. “He told me he feels fine, he is just tired and weak. The kid he played (from Manti), his coach told me he played his best match of the year, too.”
In No. 3 singles, Tommy Dewitt lost both of his matches, 6-0, 6-2 to Gunnison and 6-2, 6-2 to Manti.
“The thing I keep having to remind myself is how young and new the team is – we have eight freshmen and sophomores,” DeFrancia said. “In spite of that, they competed incredibly well against the defending state champions – and they’re still smiling, still having fun and that’s what it’s all about.”
DeFrancia said nerves rattled the young Red Devils squad early on in the day.
“This morning the guys started out nervous, but once they got playing they were very relaxed,” he said. “Everyone got a lot of matches in, which is what our team needs right now.”
The Red Devils are next scheduled to play in Parowan against the Rams on Thursday, April 18 at 3 p.m. They were also scheduled to play Millard at 11 a.m., but the Eagles didn’t field a boys tennis team, this year, DeFrancia said.