Prep boys' tennis: Third-place finish satisfies Alta

Prep boys' tennis • Alta had two players finish as runners-up.
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For Alta, close was good enough at the Class 5A boys' tennis state tournament last weekend.

The third-place finish behind champion Viewmont and perennial power Brighton left the Hawks with a sense of satisfaction rather than disappointment.

It was the Hawks' second consecutive third-place finish, bolstered by the play of Andy Ovard at No. 2 singles and Connor Pulsipher at No. 3 singles. Both reached the final in their respective bracket to earn eight of the team's 11 points. Viewmont won the event with 23 points.

"I was satisfied," said Ovard, a senior. "I think we could have done a little bit better. We were that if everyone had a great tournament, we'd be right up there with maybe a chance to win it. Overall, I'd say we had a really good tournament."

Ovard played through possible tendinitis in his right wrist, an injury he sustained nearly a month ago. Coach Janine Peterson said the injury actually might have helped Ovard play more consistently in his three victories — all straight-sets triumphs.

"He just fought through it and continued to play tough," Peterson said. "I think in some ways it helped him play more consistently because he couldn't hit the ball as hard as he is used to doing. He moved really well and had a great tournament."

Said Ovard: "It wasn't close to being 100 percent by the end of the tournament, but I was still happy with how I played."

Ovard lost to Viewmont sophomore Jacob Tullis, who finished the season unbeaten. A season ago, Tullis ousted Pulsipher in the semifinals at No. 2 singles. This time, Pulsipher, a junior, didn't drop a set until the final match, where he ran into Brighton freshman Chase Stoner.

Stoner avenged an earlier loss to Pulsipher, 6-1, 6-2.

"They were very closely matched — Connor had beaten him in three sets before," Peterson said. "Connor had a little bit of a flat match after playing excellent tennis all season long and continuing to play really well throughout the tournament."

Alta's other deep run came from the No. 2 doubles team of David West and Jordan Bench, each of whom played junior varsity last season. The duo, playing as the second seed from Region 3, reached the second day with a pair of three-set victories — against Bingham's Parker Evans/Matt Tobler and Layton's Josh Wolfey/Justin Needham.

They pushed Viewmont's Zach Beckstrand/Brandon Kesparian to a second-set tie-breaker before bowing out.

"We were close to being higher, but I was pleased with where we finished," Peterson said. "The guys played really tough, and if they hadn't played tough, we could have definitely finished lower." —