Compared to past seasons when there were only one or two favorites, this year's boys singles field at the 5A state tennis tournament is wide open.
Reigning champion Parth Raina of Capital will not compete because of a back injury, and state runner-up Matt Oddonetto of Boise and third-place finisher Jason Armstrong of Timberline graduated last year.
First-round boys singles matches begin at 8 a.m. for the top half of the bracket and 9:30 a.m. for the lower half Friday at Appleton Tennis Center on the Boise State campus. Championship matches are scheduled for Saturday.
Here are the leading contenders to win this year's title (in alphabetical order):
Orin Duffin, Hillcrest
The junior enters as the top contender from the east, having won the District Five-Six championship.
Gavin Hatter, Centennial
The sophomore, who also qualified for state last year, was the No. 1 seed heading into last week's district tournament but was upset in the semifinals. Hatter's only 5A SIC loss this season was to Eagle's Cody Miller.
Rafa Hewitt-Steiger, Lewiston
Hewitt-Steiger won the 32-team Capital Invitational title in late April and has the No. 1 overall seed at state. He lost in the semifinals last season.
Cody Miller, Eagle
Eagle coach Robert Sterk said Miller, who has committed to play for Idaho State, has the tools to make a run, but the key will be execution.
Reuben Mulhern, Borah
Mulhern has been Borah's No. 1 singles player all season, and he earned the No. 3 seed out of District Three. He has committed to play for Pacific University in Oregon.
Patrick Ryan, Boise
The senior has been up and down this season, but has potential to shine if he stays focused.
Kyle Whittaker, Borah
The sophomore surpassed expectations at the district tournament by advancing to the title match as the No. 5 seed. Though he lost, his rally from down 4-2 to a 6-all tie in the second set was impressive.
John Wingate, Capital
The junior was the No. 2 seed at the district tournament and ended up with his first title by holding off Whittaker 6-3, 7-6 (2).
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX