John La Cognata is no stranger to taking teams to Liberty Park. Again, Lone Peak qualified all five boys' tennis positions, encompassing seven players that will journey to Salt Lake City for the 5A state tournament that begins Friday.
The Knights coach, however, does have some strangers to the scene.
Three participants were on the junior varsity last year and three others are in new positions. Only No. 1 singles-playing senior Scott Bohne is in the same spot as last spring.
"This season's been really interesting," the self-effacing La Cognata said. "We won region. It's been an amazing year. People ask 'how have you done it?' A lot of smoke. A lot of mirrors."
Thursday was the final practice day for teams — a rite of passage for teams of all kinds this time of year before competing for the last time. La Cognata wanted to focus on having his aged-but-inexperienced group trying to play the same tennis at Liberty Park as it has the past couple of months. He talked about it at a morning breakfast with the group. Accomplishing that can be easier said than done amid all of the hoopla, where noise and a constant twang of tennis balls meeting racquets can overwhelm newcomers to the carnival.
"You just want them to realize that it doesn't matter where you're playing," Lone Peak's coach said. "It's still a tennis court."
Ones where Utah County participants could have some nice success.
Bohne, a senior, will try to build upon a 12-0 record and region 4 championship in the state's top post. Zach Dean of Lehi (8-4 his senior year) will also participate in the No. 1 position. Hayden de Hoyos of Pleasant Grove, who reached the semifinals at No. 1 doubles last year, takes a sophomore record of 5-7 into state at the top spot.
Blair Robbins of Lone Peak and Pleasant Grove's Jake Harris could be sturdy team-points producers at No. 2 singles.
The locals' heaviest spot will be No. 3, where four Utah County participants will start beginning at 9 a.m. Nick Olsen of Pleasant Grove and Jens Nielsen from Lone Peak each carry 9-3 records.
Nielsen played No. 2 doubles last year for the Knights, one of a handful of uprisings among the team.
Lehi (McKay Peck and Mike Garcia) and Pleasant Grove (Quen Wilson and Jacob Eddington) could also fare well at No. 1 doubles, each tandem acquiring a 10-2 record.
Same with No. 2 doubles at Lone Peak (Ryan Hunter and Colton Carrier), as that's a place where the Knights could pile up some team points.
Four Utah County schools (Lehi, American Fork, Lone Peak and Pleasant Grove) qualified teams at No. 1 doubles.