A match is a match is a match.
That’s how Woods Cross junior Matt Cowley approaches tennis. And perhaps that is how the state’s best player proved it Saturday as he won the 4A first singles state championship at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City.
“Every match is the same,” Cowley said. “I treat every point the same. I don’t get too high or too low.
“I just like to have fun out there.”
Saturday was certainly fun as Cowley tore through the competition.
Cowley opened with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Peter McMinn of West High. Next, it was Kenyon Finch of Orem getting beat by Cowley 6-0, 6-1.
In the semi-finals Cowley faced undefeated Timpview player John Pearce. Cowley made quick work of Pearce, 6-4, 6-4.
Cowley stopped Brad Weaver of East in the finals, 6-1, 7-6. to capture the title.
“I didn’t feel any pressure really,” Cowley said. “I just went out and played and had fun.”
Even with the second set so close, Cowley remained focused.
“I never think about anything except the point that I’m on.”
Cowley finished the year undefeated and having never lost a set.
“I love the game,” Cowley said. “I love to play.”
Some have said the true best player in the state is Highland’s Devan Lane. The Ram was two-time defending first singles champion but broke his ankle prior to the state tournament.
“I’ve played Devan and we’re pretty good friends,” Cowley said. “He’s a great player.”
What Cowley didn’t mention, however, was that he not only played Lane at a tournament in Las Vegas in March, but Cowley beat him putting to rest any discussion as to who is truly the top tennis player in Utah.
“Matt is humble and isn’t going to brag,” said his father and coach Joe Cowley. “He just likes to play tennis.”
Cowley also finished 2008 ranked No. 1 in the state for under 18 years of age players and was in the top five in the under 16 age group and ranked in the nation’s top 100 players.
“I have fun having my father as my coach,” Matt said. “He pushes me but he’s not overbearing about it. We have fun spending time together.”
Matt’s grandfather (Joe’s dad) also helped coach the Wildcats this year.
“It’s a fun time. Not many people get to spend this kind of time with their father and grandfather.”
As for the future, Matt remains grounded.
“I’ll keep playing and come back next year and get back after it and play hard and try to have it happen again.”
With the new Region, Matt will see Lane more often.
“I think that will make us both better players,” Matt said. “I think most of this is now about the mental preparation and approach to competition.”
“If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t want to do it.”