There could be many new faces at the conclusion of this weekend's 5A tennis state tournament.
Boise High's Bianca Mok is considered a shoo-in to repeat as girls singles champion for her third consecutive title, but she remains an anomaly. The bracket experienced mass attrition from graduation, meaning new players will engrave their names as state champions.
Play begins at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The two days are split, with boys doubles at Borah, girls doubles at Capital and singles at the Boise Racquet & Swim Club. On Saturday, the doubles winners will consolidate at the BRSC, joining singles.
The tournament consists of five events: boys and girls singles, boys and girls doubles, and mixed doubles, with players limited to participation in only one event.
Treasure Valley teams and individuals could dominate the tournament.
"We have better competition, and the good kids play year-round," Capital coach Tom Campbell said. "We have the indoor facility, and we have some awfully good coaches in the Valley. That makes a big difference. It's like any other sport: If you really want to be good, you almost have to play it year-round and concentrate on one sport."
If Campbell's premonition proves true, Boise and Timberline are resounding favorites. Boise swept the team titles at the District Three Tournament.
Four boys stand out: Borah's Kyle Whittaker, the District Three champion, Centennial's Gavin Hatter, Mountain View's Issac Dodd and Boise's John Lyon.
"Idaho Falls has some good players, and Coeur d'Alene has some good players, too," Eagle coach Robert Sterk said. "But I'd have to give (Whittaker) the nod. The No. 2 boy (Hatter) in our district is pretty good, too, and I think he's better than the other district champions."
Eagle's double pairing of Andrew Tzeng and Aurin Bagchi enter undefeated, having only lost one set the entire season.
"They're from the premier high school in the Treasure Valley,'' Sterk joked about his players. "They're head and shoulders above the rest of the field, and I think any coach would say that."
Campbell agreed, referring to the two as the "cream of the crop."
Eagle's Skylar Schossberger is the main threat to dethrone Mok, but it would be a big surprise. Mok defeated Schossberger 6-1, 6-1 in the district championship.
"Nobody is going to beat Mok. She's a level above anybody else," Campbell said. "I've never seen a high school girl hit the ball as hard as she does. If she could compete with the boys, I'm not sure she wouldn't do well in the boys singles."
Idaho Falls and Meridian are the frontrunners in mixed doubles competition.
Idaho Falls' sister pairing of Hannah and Sidney Wright are the No. 1 seed, but Boise's Hailey Boyd, who won last season with her older sister, Allie, could win with Ella Samer, too. Both teams from Timberline will be competitive.
Stern labeled mixed competition as "pretty much a no-brainer.''
Idaho Falls' Madison Maloney placed second in singles last season, but moved into the mixed pool with partner Jesse Haas, who is the No. 1-ranked boy in the 16s.
"They took the top two singles players from the eastern district and put them together in mixed," Stern said. "They wanted to get a state title."
Meridian's Hannah Uhlenkott and David Galway, who won the District Three title, are the steepest competition.
Trevor Phibbs: 377-6424, Twitter: @IDS_Phibbs