The Desert Vista High School girls’ tennis program has been stuck at a level of success that most programs would like to maintain.
For more than a decade, the Thunder could be counted on for double-digit regular season wins, compete for the Tempe City Tournament title and qualify for the state tournament.
All commendable standards, but Desert Vista could also be counted on to lose to Xavier and bow out in the state tournament somewhere around the second round.
“We’ve been pretty good but it has never been enough to get over the top,” Desert Vista coach Angel Singer said. “We just might be good enough to do it.”
The season certainly is shaping up to be something special so far, as the Thunder, infused with a talented freshman class that includes No. 1 Rimona Rouf, has shown signs of breaking through.
Desert Vista entered Tuesday’s match against Westwood undefeated at 10-0. It won the Tempe City Invitational for the fifth time on March 18,
But the real sign came on March 28.
That is when the Thunder topped Xavier, 6-3, for the first time in the 12 years Singer has been the head coach for the program.
“There was definitely some personal gratification there,” Singer said. “We’ve never done that since I’ve been coach. There’s a little redemption there. It could have been even more but we kind of let up at the end.
“It’s always been a tough one of us, but some of the young players have no reason to be dreading that match (in the years) to come because they’ve beaten them.”
Much of the success this season has been the result of Rouf’s taking over the No. 1 spot.
Last year’s No. 1, Jacy Chan, held her own at the top spot a year ago, but now at No. 2, she is a very difficult matchup for opponents. The addition of Rouf drops all the players – junior Jody Zhu, junior Jody Palmer, senior Paris Bennett and senior Erica Liu – down one slot to make them even stronger players.
“For me personally, it has been a good addition,” Chan said of Rouf. “She makes me better. It’s a good match and I feel like if I can play with her then I can beat anyone else. And the team is better for it.”
Singer said the best part about a player Rouf’s of caliber is that she can be focused on USTAF rankings and the high school team is just something to do.
“The whole family has been great, and totally supportive of the team,” Singer said. “It’s rare, really. Usually, team tennis is secondary. They couldn’t be any better.”
Rouf has a chance to be a really special player for Desert Vista over the next four seasons.
“She’s dynamite and her upside is unbelievable,” Singer said. “She has no off switch. She plays hard whether she is playing Xavier or someone who just picked up a racquet for the first time. I’ve had very good players before, but they would pull back a little against a lesser player. Rimona will ace them out and be off the court in 10 minutes. She doesn’t let up.”
It puts the Thunder in a good position as the regular season winds down. It has been No. 1 or No. 2 most of the season, with Desert Mountain ending the week at No. 1.
The team had a match suspended by rain during singles play. When it picks back up on April 17, each team is leading two singles matches and two singles matches are tied.
The winner will most likely grab the No. 1 overall seed for the team state tournament on April 25.
It would give one team, in theory, an easier path to the state title match, something the Desert Vista program has yet to accomplish. The Thunder lost twice in the state semifinals in the last five seasons.
“I think this team is playing at a very high level,” Chan said. “We win that one and we should get the No. 1 seed. Winning state is always the goal but this year it seems to be more of a possibility.”
said. “Second, my high school friend and college roommate is the head pro at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes and his course is always in great shape. It has phenomenal facilities, and they are super-easy to work with.
“Lastly, I have done a fundraiser like this before and with support from the community and a little time and planning, we can make this a really special and unique event that hopefully we can make our only fundraiser for the year.”
He also noted that there is “a handful of local businesses that support us in a variety of ways and this is a great way for us to say thank you by advertising and promoting their businesses through ads in our programs we hand out at all home games, signage on the course and tee flags and through word of mouth.”
Webb is hoping that his players do most of the tournament recruiting, noting that there are 45 players in all when counting the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams.
“If each player can get two golfers to join the event, then we would be able to bring in a good amount of traffic – which in the end is outstanding for all who are involved.”
People who can’t attend the tournament but want to help the team can make a
Check out to DV Boy’s Volleyball and send to DV Boy’s Volleyball, Desert Vista High School, 16440 S. 32nd St., Phoenix, AZ 85048.