SOUTHERN UTAH – Players and coaches from Region 9 high schools in St. George, Cedar City and Hurricane are preparing to kick off the 2012 boys’ tennis season.
Students of Pine View, Hurricane, Canyon View, Desert Hills, Cedar, Snow Canyon and Dixie high schools have trained tirelessly through the winter for their shot at the top. Though teams range in size from 20 to 40 boys, there are just seven coveted varsity positions: three singles and two doubles pairs. These are the only players that are eligible to compete at the state championships, while junior varsity players compete in matches against similarly skilled players from nearby schools.
The Desert Hills Thunder are looking to follow up their clean sweep victory at last year’s state championship (their varsity team won all singles and doubles divisions).
“We have a strong group of young players,” coach Dow Christenson stated. “Challenges for spots are intense.”
For Ivins resident Nicolas Csere, 14, his first year representing Snow Canyon is sure to be both thrilling and challenging. “I know there might be setbacks, but I am willing to put everything [I can] into the team to make sure we go to state and take it. I hope to leave a mark in tennis history.”
“I’m excited,” junior David Griffiths, from Pine View, said. “I want to see how [my friends and I] do when we’re playing for our schools instead of just for ourselves. The competitiveness of it should be interesting.”
Numerous enthusiastic freshmen are gearing up for their debuts, but for other players, this season will be their last. Snow Canyon 12th-grader Landon Saipale said that although he is planning to pursue college tennis, sharing the camaraderie of the Warriors was a one-of-a-kind experience.
“I’m going to miss high school and my teammates. My goal is to have a great senior season and lead Snow Canyon to its first region and state titles in boys’ tennis.”
Though tennis is seldom referred to as a team sport, players from Southern Utah’s high schools receive support from family, friends and fellow athletes.
“I love to see players evolve into something better than what they started as,” said Dixie coach Eric Christensen. “[It’s wonderful] to watch a team come together and cheer for each other even though [tennis] is a largely individual sport.”
Beginning practices for all Region 9 schools will be held on Feb. 27, with official matches starting on Mar. 5. The competition will continue throughout the spring and culminate in mid-May with the state championships. Conducted by the Utah High School Activities Association, the tournament is held at the BYU Campus in Provo (at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City for 4A & 5A schools) and pits Varsity singles and doubles players against opponents from across Utah.
“I’m looking forward to our arduous practices and watching my players fight for every point during every match,” said Jeremy Atkin, coach for Snow Canyon. “We have some of the best tennis players in the state. It’s going to be a fantastic season.”
“Come out, enjoy the sunshine and watch us play!” said Christensen.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News.