Prep boys' tennis • Park City edged the Soaring Eagles for the state team title last year.
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Draper • There's an air of confidence, of inevitability on the Juan Diego tennis courts.
And though they don't want to sound arrogant or presumptive, there's little Brendan and Ryan Kempin can say to hide the fact the brothers expect to be state champions later this month.
Each is undefeated this season Brendon, a junior, perfect at No. 1 singles; Ryan, just a freshman, unblemished at No. 2 singles. And neither expects that to change to keep them from hoisting the hardware at the state meet May 17 and 18 in St. George.
"We just look at every match as a time to practice," said Brendan Kempin, the top-ranked 18U player in the Intermountain region. "Just treat it like we would a top junior in the nation and get something good out of it."
Brendon claimed the No. 1 singles title a year ago as middle brother Ryan watched, champing at the bit to play. Juan Diego finished fourth, four points back of Class 3A champion Park City, something Ryan is confident won't happen again this year.
Along with No. 3 Brenton Reyner, a state semifinalist at No. 2 singles last year, the Soaring Eagle appear to have a stranglehold on the individual awards.
"Last year it was heartbreaking to see how close they were," Ryan Kempin said. "In region, I expect at 1, 2 and 3 in singles we will win it, and I expect our doubles to do well, and keep that same pattern through state."
All three singles players claimed victory at last week's Region 10 meet as the Soaring Eagle capped an unbeaten region season.
Juan Diego coach Arthur Miyazaki said dominating the singles side doesn't necessarily guarantee overall team success. Certainly not when other schools appear to be conceding the singles tournaments and moving their best players to doubles in hopes of keeping pace with the Soaring Eagle.
"It's depth," Miyazaki said. "You could have a team make the finals in every position and out-point us. If we just win the three positions and doubles gets knocked off early, that can happen. A lot of teams are putting their best players, or their second- and third-best players at doubles. Every day is a new day."
Juan Diego's top doubles team of Ryan Lowe and Rex Alley placed second at the region tournament. The No. 2 doubles team of Nick Fuller and Dillon Kaeser placed third.
Those results, combined with the stellar singles play, makes Juan Diego the favorite to win its first state title in boys' tennis.
And with only one senior Fuller in the starting lineup, the Soaring Eagle are set to dominate the 3A field in the foreseeable future. The Kempins' youngest brother, Conner, will be a freshman next year.
The Kempin tennis bloodline runs deep to dad Kevin, who played at Weber State and is an assistant coach at Juan Diego, to mom Darlene, aunt Julie, who played at the University of Utah, and their grandparents.
"These kids have good technique," Miyazaki said. "Their father makes sure they have good technique when they are playing, so the coaching is about zoning in and attacking weakness or on footwork. It comes from their father. They have good genes."