SALT LAKE CITY
It will be his last match ever, or maybe second to last if Saturday morning goes well.
Tevan Balian figures the pressure’s actually off, though. He’s bound to decide on colleges based on academics alone, and the No. 1 singles player from Dixie has decided not to extend his tennis career to the college level. Unless he changes his mind (as classroom comfort allows) and decides to walk on somewhere.
He’ll likely go to Boise State or stay near home at Dixie State, but he figures knowing this is it for competitive tennis makes today’s 3A state semifinal “even more fun.”
Balian will play TJ Mayo of Park City in a 9 a.m. match, with the winner likely to face defending state champ Brendan Kempin of Juan Diego.
It was Kempin who defeated Balian in last year’s top singles title match (6-2, 6-2). Now, the Dixie player who wants to soon focus on becoming an orthodontist, will have to (cough, cough) brace himself for a new opponent in Mayo.
Mayo defeated Desert Hills’ Gabe Anderson in Friday’s second round, which was moved to Eccles Tennis Center at the University of Utah because of constant rain in the area.
Balian said he has split his last four matches with Anderson, and acknowledged that would’ve been a slugfest.
“Gabe and I have similar styles and he always plays really well against me,” Balian said. “I’m glad I don’t have to play him. It’ll be interesting to see someone new. I know (Mayo) is really consistent from watching him after my second match was done. I just have to play my game, he’ll play his and we’ll see what happens.”
Balian didn’t squander a game in any of his four sets.
“I played well, so I’m excited to keep going,” he said.
He wasn’t the only local to find his groove, despite the harried day that tournament organizers were ready for Thursday night after looking at weather reports.
The location switches didn’t faze Matt Douglas of Snow Canyon, who will face Kempin — the son of a tennis-company executive who will soon play on scholarship at Notre Dame — in the semifinals.
At No. 2 singles, Dixie’s Micah Alba will face Kempin’s brother, Ryan, in the morning session at the traditional outdoor location of downtown’s Liberty Park.
Another Flyer, Luke Heaton, reached the semis at No. 3.
Clay Hardy and Christian Davis (a pair of seniors from Desert Hills) will face Grantsville in a No. 1 doubles test. On the opposite side of the bracket, Snow Canyon’s Logan Wrigley and Matt Morgan will try and knock off one of the Juan Diego juggernauts.
Desert Hills’ No. 2 tandem (Austin Hardy and Preston Permenter) will also get that chance at No. 2 doubles. And Hunter McArthur and Devin Radmall reached the semis and will face Park City.
Team scores: Juan Diego 10, Snow Canyon 8, Grantsville 7, Dixie 7, Park City, 7, Desert Hills 6, North Sanpete 4.