Scottsdale Prep Tennis: boys, girls teams begin tournament runs

Notre Dame Preparatory’s Alexa Cooke (left) and Chaparral High School’s Levi Schulman (right) compete in their respective matches in the opening round of the state tournament. State tournament action got underway Tuesday, April 25 for the girls and Wednesday, April 26 for the boys. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

The boy’s and girl’s state tennis tournaments are in full swing and several Scottsdale-area schools are looking to add a piece of championship hardware to their trophy case.

Across three divisions, these local schools will play in a single-elimination tournament, competing for a points in both singles and doubles play. Each match is worth one point for a total of nine possible points between six singles matches and three doubles matches.

The first round is in the books with the second round beginning Tuesday, April 2 for the girls and Wednesday, April 3 for the boys. Results from any Tuesday, April 2 matches are not recorded because they occurred after the Independent went to print.

Girl’s tennis

Looming at the top of the Division I tournament is Desert Mountain High School, a team with only one loss to its name and the No. 1 seed in the tournament. The Wolves swept Cesar Chavez High School in the opening round.

“My team is the ‘dream team’ this year,” Desert Mountain head girl’s tennis coach Sherri North said in an April 27 emailed response to questions.

Notre Dame Preparatory’s Alexa Cooke returns the ball in the No. 2 singles match during the Saints’ 5–0 win over Ironwood Ridge High School in the opening round of the Division II girl’s state tournament Tuesday, April 25. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

“I feel fortunate to have a team with such depth. This depth is what has allowed us to earn our way to the playoffs this year. I’ve got players who are seriously dedicated to the sport of tennis — they eat, breath and live the sport.”

The Wolves’ only loss of the season came to Mesa’s Mountain View High School in a tight 5–4 match. Mountain View locked up the No. 2 seed so these two teams could have a rematch later in the tournament.

Desert Mountain played the team comprised of student-athletes from Rincon and University High Schools, Tuesday, May 2.

Division I is littered with one-loss teams as Chaparral High School earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament and is one of seven one-loss teams in the tournament. Chaparral defeated Mountain Ridge High School and played Corona del Sol High School Tuesday, April 2.

In a similar situation, Notre Dame Preparatory has exercised dominance in Division II, culminating in an undefeated regular season, a first round sweep of Ironwood Ridge High School and the No. 2 seed in the Division II tournament.

“We are very excited to be competing in the playoffs this year,” NDP head girl’s tennis coach Shelley Dinges said in an April 27 emailed response to questions.  “After graduating five seniors last year, the girls have really stepped up to fill their shoes. The whole team has been working really hard and they are all very excited to be competing for NDP.”

Throughout most of the season, NDP has posted several sweeps and surrendered few points. Its closest contest was against Cactus Shadows High School where the Saints came away with a 5–4 win. NDP faced Salpointe Catholic Tuesday, April 2.

Arcadia High School also ranks in the upper tier of the tournament with a No. 4 seed and added an opening-road sweep of Greenway High School to its name. The Titans squared off against Cactus Shadows in the next round.

As a whole, Division II is home to all double-digit win teams this season, making for a solid group of competition for all those involved.

“There are some very good and well-coached teams and players in Division II,” Coach Dinges said. “We feel very fortunate to be able to be in the position to compete against them.”

Another notable inclusion in the state playoffs is No. 5 Xavier College Preparatory in Division I, which faced Desert Vista High School in the second round.

In Division III, both Scottsdale Preparatory and Phoenix Country Day School made the cut. Scottsdale Prep is the No. 8 seed and faced No. 1 Thatcher High School in second round action. Phoenix Country Day is the No. 5 seed and played No. 4 Benson in the next round.

With all the solid competition in place for the playoffs, Coach North said she is impressed by what all the student-athletes put forth on the courts.

“Heading into the playoffs, we know we will face some awesome teams, and we respect that they, too, are hard-working, dedicated athletes,” she said. “It’s the dedication of all who are involved, that makes this playoff such a thrill and such an honor.”

Arcadia’s Rush Williams swings at the ball in the No. 1 singles match during the Titans’ 5–2 loss to Nogales High School in the opening round of the Division II boy’s state tournament Wednesday, April 26. (Independent Newsmedia/Josh Martinez)

Boy’s tennis

After the first round of play in the boy’s tennis state tournament, three local teams remain in their respective Division I or II brackets.

In the top Division, Chaparral is working with a No. 2 seed and a 5–2 win over Sandra Day O’Connor High School. The Firebirds are next looking toward a bout with No. 7 Sunnyslope Wednesday, May 3 in the next round.

The top four teams in the division each had one loss in the regular season. The Firebirds’ lone loss came against Hamilton High School — the No. 3-seeded team in the tournament — in a 6–3 defeat. Since that time, Chaparral has worked to take care of its opponents handedly, for the most part.

One team Chaparral could see in the next round is No. 6 Desert Mountain; However, the Wolves would need to get past Hamilton to do so.

Desert Mountain swept Cibola in the opening round but Hamilton also recorded a first-round sweep. These two teams met earlier in the regular season with Hamilton taking a 7–2 victory.

As a whole, the Wolves have posted an 11–4 record with all four of its losses coming to the top four ranked teams in the tournament. DMHS head boy’s tennis coach Dan LeFevre said he recognizes his team might not be as experienced as previous teams but that doesn’t deter him.

“I still have a great No. 1 player in Cam Krimbill and a good supporting cast and while we are not favored to beat Hamilton in the quarterfinals, we are going to give it our best shot. If my team stays relaxed, and plays their best, good things will happen,” he said in an April 27 emailed response to questions.

In Division II, Notre Dame Prep is the only local team to remain as Arcadia suffered an upset to Nogales High School in the opening round. No. 11 Nogales took care of No. 6 Arcadia 5–2.

No. 5 NDP (13–2 overall) is still alive but faces a tough test with No. 4 Salpointe Catholic on deck for Wednesday, May 3, a chance for NDP to avenge in earlier 5–4 loss to the team. The Saints secured a 5–1 win in the first round of the tournament.

NDP head boy’s tennis coach Mark Naprstek said his team is young but he is confident in what they can accomplish moving forward.

“I would have to say they are peaking at the right time,” he said in an April 27 emailed response to questions. “The first half of the season was lighter than the back half of season and the guys noticed this and have reacted nicely to the challenge.”

In Division III, No. 3 Scottsdale Prep swept No. 14 Sedona Red Rock to advance to the next round to host No. 6 Miami High School Wednesday, May 3.

Other notable quarterfinalists include No. 1 Brophy Preparatory and No. 5 Horizon in Division I.

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at jmartinez@newszap.com or at 623-445-2738

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