Redd Owen watched the ball falling back to earth and then took one last swing, a giant overhead smash, to finish the job.
The Brighton High sophomore dropped his racket, took off his hat and pumped his fist. And for the second straight year, Owen could claim his spot as the top singles tennis player in Utah’s Class 5A.
“I love both of them,” Owen said comparing his back-to-back state titles.
A year ago, Owen might have been a surprise champion. This year, it was clear he would get everyone’s best shot if he wanted to repeat.
Owen put up with tough fights against Woods Cross freshman Spencer Johnson (6-4, 6-2) and a clash with Timpview junior Josh Pearce (6-3, 6-4). In the second set, Pearce battled back from 5-1 to win the next three games. But in the end, Owen found a way to prevail.
“I’m lucky to come out with the win,” Owen said. “Spencer is an amazing player. He had me shaking in my boots. He’s a freshman and he has a really high future ahead of him. And Josh was one of the toughest matches I’ve played. I was so nervous. He’s such a good player.”
The Brighton Bengals entered the state tournament as a slight favorite to win the team title. Owen was the only Bengal to claim an individual championship on Saturday at Liberty Park, but Brighton’s 20 team points were still enough to win the Class 5A title.
“I just think as a team, from the beginning of the year, my brothers really bonded together,” Owen said. “You can’t control results, but it was really special competing with this group of guys.”
That’s why the first thing Owen did after winning his individual title was to find his teammates and celebrate the moment with them.
“These are my brothers,” he said. “These are all my best friends, and I just love them so much.”
1st Singles: Redd Owen (Brighton), 6-3, 6-4
2nd Singles: Tennyson Whiting (Maple Mountain), 6-2, 6-2
3rd Singles: Grant Wilkinson (Viewmont), 7-6 (8), 6-1
1st Doubles: Jake Lambert & Seth Lambert (Skyridge), 6-4, 6-3
2nd Doubles: Tyler Cowley & Mason Cowley (Woods Cross), 6-1, 6-1
Brighton, 20; Woods Cross, 13; Maple Mountain, 10; Timpview, 10; Skyridge, 7; Viewmont, 7.