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State tennis preview: Weber's Harrison brothers set sights on tournament glory

Wednesday , May 16, 2018 - 2:05 PM

PLEASANT VIEW — Bridger Harrison, a junior on the Weber High tennis team, can pick up a tennis racket after a long layoff and, within a few minutes, start playing at his usual high level.

It’s impressive, and it’s something his older brother Cooper Harrison, a Weber senior, finds incredibly frustrating.

“He ski races six months out of the year then picks up the racket and can play right with me, which drives me nuts because I play all winter,” Cooper said. “He’s definitely the more athletic of the two of us.”

About a week after winning their respective title matches on courts right next to each other at the Region 1 tennis championships, the Harrisons take aim at this week’s state tennis championships at Liberty Park.

If their aim is anything like Cooper’s serve, there’s a chance good things could happen for them this year.

At 6 feet 3 inches, Cooper Harrison can hit at least 120 mph on his serve and follows that with a lot of serve-and-volleys to take advantage of opponents trying everything just to keep his serve in play.

“I’m playing really well right now, I think at the start of the season (Bridger) may have been a little better than me, but I’d say right now I’m probably playing a touch better,” Cooper said.

Bridger put it another way.

“We played last week and he blew me off the court,” he said.

Cooper Harrison has been Weber’s No. 1 singles player for four years now, but has never won a state tournament match. As a freshman, he fell 6-4, 6-1 in the first round in 2015. As a top seed last year, his junior year, he fell 6-0, 6-1 in the first round.

This year, though, there’s not as much pressure on his mind.

“I’m not as stressed as I usually am, I was planning on trying to play college tennis the last three years and I’ve kind of decided not to do that,” Cooper said.

On the other side of Cooper’s bracket is Brigham Andrus of Lone Peak, a senior and BYU commit who didn’t play high school tennis last year so he could train in California. 

Bridger Harrison won the No. 2 singles title last year after his opponent forfeited due to injury. Andrus’ arrival bumped Lone Peak’s Micah Heimuli, who lost in the 5A finals at No. 1 singles last year, down to No. 2 singles.

Heimuli and Bridger are on opposite sides of the No. 2 singles bracket and could meet in the finals should they progress that far.

“I’m definitely a little nervous, trying to make sure everything’s tuned in. I think I’m playing well, I fixed my serve, but it’s a little bit of a bummer that this will be our last year (playing with each other),” Bridger said.

Layton’s Walker Kemp is a top seed at No. 3 singles. The Lancers also have a No. 1 doubles team of Jess Denhalter and Travis Anderson.

The odds-on favorite in the 6A tournament is Lone Peak, last year’s 5A champion.

WOODS CROSS READY FOR LOADED 5A FIELD

After sweeping Viewmont in all five title matches at last week’s Region 5 championships, Woods Cross turns its eyes to the 5A tournament with potentially enough depth and firepower to make things interesting.

Spencer Johnson is unbeaten at No. 1 singles and, though he’s a freshman, the skinny left-hander hits serves and groundstrokes with the pace of someone four years older than him.

What’s scary is Johnson is dominating as a freshman with three years left to grow into his body (he said his dad is 6 feet, 4 inches tall). He’s ranked No. 13 in Boys 16 Singles in the USTA Intermountain District.

Brighton sophomore Redd Owen (No. 2 in Boys 16s, 35th nationally) is a five-star recruit, the defending 5A champion at No. 1 singles and appears to be the favorite this year. Skyline won the 4A championship last year and is the de-facto defending champion this year in 5A.

Johnson and Owen are on the same side of the bracket and could meet in the semifinals if they both win their first two matches.

Woods Cross’ Jakob Kempema, at No. 2 singles, lost to eventual 4A first singles champ and nationally ranked player Connor Robb-Wilcox from Skyline in the No. 1 singles semifinals last year.

Holden Iverson, (No. 3 singles) and the doubles teams of Peter Richards and Josh Lewis (No. 1 doubles) and Tyler Cowley and Mason Cowley (No. 2 doubles) round out the rest of Woods Cross’ top-seeded contingent.

STATE TENNIS TOURNAMENT

Where: Liberty Park, Salt Lake City

When: 6A tournament begins Thursday, May 17 at 9 a.m.; the 5A tournament starts Friday, May 18 at 9 a.m.; the 6A/5A semifinals and finals are Saturday at 9 a.m.

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