The singles and doubles tennis state tournaments begin Friday.
Below is a primer on some of the top boys teams heading to state. We'll post the notes for the girls on Friday.
Cesar Chavez: Coach Jose Villagomez credited girls coach Gus Padilla for also helping the boys improve since 2007, when the coaches encouraged their players to start playing in summer leagues. … Cesar Chavez is 10-4 this season and qualified for state for the second consecutive year with four returning varsity players from last year’s 13-0 regular season team. … Team started 2-3 this season. … Erick Rodriguez, the program’s No. 1 singles player for the past three seasons, went 12-2 this season and is 39-15 in his career. … No. 5 Juan Jose Lara and No. 6 Dakota Tanton went 7-1 in doubles. … Juniors Javier Salomon (No. 2, 7-3 in singles), No. 3 Jose Hernandez (10-4) and No. 4 Aric Sandoval (8-4) also played “key roles” in this year’s success.
Chandler Prep: Team is 13-0 despite losing its captain Christopher Knight to an injury. … Current No. 1 Ajay Janakiram keeps his cool and does not dwell on mistakes, coach Cameron Karimi said. … The team’s average opponent ranking was the lowest in its division this season. … “We try to our best to play with virtue and class in each of our matches,” Karimi said. “We would rather lose with virtue than win without virtue.” … Team has 16 total players, including eight seniors and nine first-year players. … Patrick Staring is the team’s overall best singles player, and Janakiram and Yianni Laloudakis form the No. 1 doubles team. … “Each player on the team is a top performer,” Karimi said.
Chaparral: Team is 12-2, with losses to top-seeded Brophy and Desert Mountain. But Chaparral avenged its early season loss to Desert Mountain. … No. 1 James Ponwith went undefeated in singles, and No. 2 Stefan Koester went 13-1, including wins at No. 1.
Desert Mountain: “The strength of our team is its depth,” coach Dan LaFevre said. “While we have great players at the top of the lineup, we win many matches withour strength at No. 4, 5 and 6. Good new too. We have a team full of 9th and 10th graders. They should only be getting better over the next few years.” … The team’s No. 1 is Jeremy Auh, “a super player” in singles and doubles. Auh will partner with Chase Victor, forming the No. 1 seed in the state doubles tournament. “Both have a great understanding of how to play doubles,” LaFevre said. “Usually players do not develop into good doubles players until they are juniors or seniors. Jeremy and Chase have already figured out how to play good doubles.”
Marcos de Niza: Team reached the postseason despite not having high school tennis experience before this season started. The team is made up of four basketball players, a hockey player and a recreational tennis player. … “I am very proud of what the boys have done because they work hard at practice every day,” coach Andrea Niederkorn said. “And then during matches they often win because of their competitive nature and refusal to give up.” … No. 1 Connor Stark and No. 4 Cameron Stark are brothers and their cousin is No. 6 Mason. No. 2 David Niederkorn is the coach’s son. … No. 3 Kyle Laie and Connor will be roommates at ASU next year as well as David and No. 6 Ryan Sanders. … David is ranked in the top 5 percent of his class. He and Lai are 7-0 in doubles. … Cameron Stark finished 14-0 during the regular season.
Hamilton: Team finished 11-3 in the regular season and is shooting for its fourth consecutive trip to the state semifinals. But team opens up with a “formidable” opponent in Desert Vista. … Team’s No. 1 doubles team, Sam Wang and Mac Howell, is seeded No. 3 in the doubles state tournament. Wang and Howell won the doubles tournament at the Kiwanis Tournament. … Hamilton’s No. 2 doubles team, Andy Yuwen and Brandon Rast, also qualified for state.
Highland: Team is comprised of just seniors. … Doubles team Tanner Erickson and Brandon Sucher are ranked No. 7 but coach expects them to go much higher at state. … Ryan Layton qualified for state in singles and “is one of the hardest working athletes, always finding time to practice.”
Ironwood Ridge: No. 1 Ryan Knox (9-2) is a junior and finished 4th in last year’s state tournament. Knox and junior Brody Harn, another singles state qualifier, are 8-3 in doubles. … Senior Nick Thomson and doubles partner junior Ben Sutton went 8-3 this season.
Liberty: Team finished 11-3 in its first D-1 season and won its second consecutive district championship. … Team is led by No. 1 sophomore Gavin McRaie and No. 2 junior Brandon Hew (12-2 singles), who are 12-2 in doubles this year. … No. 3 Patrick Omega is 9-5, and Devin Spragg is 12-2. … “I am very pleased with how this team has responded to the new division and we are working hard to prepare for a very tough first round opponent in Chaparral.”
Mesquite: Team pushed each other with six players vying for the team’s No. 3-6 spots. … Team lost its No. 3, Niko Carlow, after a midseason injury but responded well. … No. 1 Daniel Hollands is seeded fifth at state and is undefeated, and No. 2 C.J. Smith (13-1) just missed earning a state seed. “Both are ready to compete,” coach Ray Valenzuela said. Hollands and Smith are undefeated in doubles. … Team’s season record is 12-2.
Mountain Ridge: “We have a great group of committed players who practice as hard as they play,” coach Timothy Rosinbum said. “Their dedication to the sport is impressive, and every player has show serious improvement.” … Team is 12-2. … Team’s No. 1 is Cody Kacerek, an “ultra-consistent player who wins matches through cerebral play, not overwhelming power.” ... The top doubles team of Daniel Cowan and Purnoor Sanghera compliment each other. Cowan brings the power and net game, and Sanghera consistently places the ball in the right spots.
Nogales: “We are proud to be a part of a continued winning tennis tradition at Nogales High School,” coach Rudy Molera said. … Senior Francisco Ton has been the team’s No. 1 the past three seasons, and his brother, Alexis, a sophomore, is the team’s No. 2. … No. 3 Alan Soto-Hopkins, No. 4 Diego Garcia, No. 5 Jose Robles, and No. 6 Wyatt Bell round out the team.
Prescott: Team is 12-2. … Coach Sterling Fetty has been working on building this team for the past two years. … This is the first season team has reached the postseason since the latest division configuration was introduced. … Team defeated Sunnyslope, Cactus Shadows, and Bradshaw Mountain this season. … Team rebounded well after tough losses this season. … The team’s only senior, Dylan Darr, is playing his best tennis since joining the program as a freshman, coach said. … The team’s captains are Jack Bradley and Nick Marroquin, the top singles players on the team. …. “Overall, it really has been a team effort this year,” Fetty said. “When one player isn’t playing well the others are there to pick up the slack. We are set up well for the state tournament. We have a team goal of making it to the semifinals.” … Brandon Nguyen, Brandon Klever, Jake Schulte, and alternate Jack Darr round out the team.
Red Mountain: Team is 13-1, with its only loss to No. 1 seed Brophy. … Team’s No. 1 Cade Lortie (West Point–bound), got off to a slow start, partly because of his pre-military training and jackhammer summer job, but he recovered to win his fourth consecutive city singles championship. … Another player bounced back from 47 stitches and broken nose after a freak accident to finish 11-2. … “This team is definitely one of my favorites, great kids who all get along and work together as a team,” coach Terry Graves said. “They do not care who is No. 1 or No. 5. They just want to win.” … Lortie’s brother, Chase, knocked out Brophy’s No. 2 and also Brophy’s No. 2 doubles team along with partner Zack Royal during the regular season. … Sophomore David Wilding was ranked No. 4 in the southwest when he was 10. He’s No. 5 on the team but almost beat Red Mountain’s No. 1 recently. … Sam “The Man” McCauley is a “beast at the net and baseline.” … No. 6 Max McBride has “unreal hands and very smooth volleys.”
Safford: Team has four seniors in starting lineup. … Safford (13-1) lost its only match to Thatcher. Team’s No. 1 Alex Smallwood is 18-0, placing first in Thatcher and Miami tournaments. … No. 1 doubles Shawn Clonts and Dustin Evans are 12-1. … “As you can see it is a team with some experience,” coach Rhonda Sears said. “They are dedicated players. They practice hard and put many hours on the courts.”
Salpointe: Team finished 13-2 this year, losing its two matches to two of the state’s No. 1 team seeds, Brophy and Catalina Foothills. … No. 1 Yash Parikh is undefeated in singles and is paired up with Jack Amos to form the Salpointe’s No. 1 doubles team.
Scottsdale Christian: “I am very lucky to be in my first coaching season with this team,” coach Cory Rockow said. “They are a great group of young men, on and off the court.” … Team is comprised of five seniors, one junior and one sophomore. “They have been hungry for a state championship for the last four years, and they now have a shot to make that a reality in the next couple of weeks,” coach said. … Team finished undefeated in section. … Senior Ryan McDowell is the team’s top overall player and “great leader.” … D-3 Team is 11-1, including a victory over D-2 Cactus Shadows, and was ranked No. 20 in the early part of the season but finished No. 5 in its division. … Senior Ethan Blake gave tennis a shot for the first time this year and currently the team’s No. 4 singles player and is No. 3 along with his doubles partner. … The team’s top doubles team is McDowell and McIntyre.