Prep tennis: Warriors take Region 9 team title; Dixie’s Balian is tops in singles

Region 9 Tennis Championships, St. George, Utah, May. 06, 2017, | Photo by Kevin Luthy, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Dixie’s Stefan Balian won at the top singles spot, while Snow Canyon brought home the team trophy at the Region 9 tennis championships Saturday at Tonaquint Park.

Dixie’s Stefan Balian, Dixie vs. Pine View, Region 9 Tennis Championships, St. George, Utah, May. 06, 2017, | Photo by Kevin Luthy, St. George News

The top four placers in each slot at region qualified for the 3A State Tournament, which is next Friday and Saturday at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.

Matt Morgan, who has dominated at first singles this year and placed in the top four in state the past two seasons, played at first doubles instead of first singles at the state tournament.

That left the door open for Balian, a freshman for the Flyers. He won the quarterfinal and semifinal matches in straight sets, then defeated Jonathan Fairbanks of Pine View in the championship match in a third-set tiebreaker. Balian won the first set 6-2, then dropped the second set 6-3. The third set went to 6-6 and Balian gutted out a 7-3 score in the tiebreaker.

“It was tight, with both kids playing well,” said Dixie coach Eric Christensen. “Stefan has improved so much this year from coming in this young freshman and now clinching the title. He’s got high expectations of himself, is a very good teammate, and always willing to learn and be coached.”

Snow Canyon’s Matt Morgan (right) and Broden Lund, Desert Hills’ vs. Snow Canyon, Region 9 Tennis Championships, St. George, Utah, May. 06, 2017, | Photo by Kevin Luthy, St. George News

As for Morgan, who was switched to first doubles a week ago against Hurricane and teamed up with Broden Lund to beat the Tigers, he had to settle for second place at region. Morgan-Lund easily won their first two matches, but were defeated by the Desert Hills duo of Conner MacArthur and Josh James in two sets. Both sets were close, with MacArthur-James winning two tiebreakers 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4).

Snow Canyon coach Jeremy Atkin defended the move of putting Morgan at first doubles instead of first singles, saying his team will benefit in the long run.

“There is no doubt that he would have taken state at first singles,” he said. “But our best chance at taking state (as a team) is with him at doubles, and he is a team player and is onboard with how this line up is.”

Atkin added that the points earned at both doubles spots make the move worthwhile.

“Snow Canyon did well,” he said. “We took the region trophy, so not so bad.”

The Warriors had top four finishers in every slot, grabbing second place in second singles and third singles, a second in first doubles and a fourth at second doubles, giving Snow Canyon enough points to win the team title. Pine View had two winners and one second, as did Desert Hills, and the two teams tied for second. Dixie was fourth with one first place (Balian), a third and two fourths. Cedar had three thirds and a fourth and Hurricane had one player take third and one take fourth.

Pine View’s Mitchell Wade, Snow Canyon vs. Pine View, Region 9 Tennis Championships, St. George, Utah, May. 06, 2017, | Photo by Kevin Luthy, St. George News

At second singles, it came down to Mitchell Wade of Pine View and Taylor Heinz of Snow Canyon in the championship match. Both players won in straight sets in their quarterfinal and semifinal matches, but it was Wade who owned the title match, coming away with a 6-3, 6-2 victory.

At third singles, Jake Hardy of Desert Hills and Tanner Sorensen of Snow Canyon had to survive a couple of three-set nailbiters to get to the championship. For Hardy, he scraped by Josh Hall of Hurricane in a quarterfinal match by the slimmest of margins, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Sorensen had his close call in the semifinals, edging out Sergio Garcia of Cedar 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. In the championship match, Hardy dominated with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Sorensen.

At second doubles, Pine View’s team of Nathan Obray and Futo Ide took the region crown, defeating the Thunder duo of Noah Thompson and Ethan Anderson, 7-5, 7-5. The Warriors just needed to place at second doubles to win the team title and Tanner Deal and Cade Thorkelson grabbed fourth place.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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