Why stop now?

The Desert Vista girls tennis team will play in the semifinals for the first time today.

Why not take the next step or even two in the Thunder's standard-setting season?

All that stands in the way of No. 4 Desert Vista (13-3) qualifying for the Class 5A Division I state championship match is perennial contender Phoenix Xavier, which has won 14 state titles and made the finals 10 other times since 1978.

That's all the Thunder are up against.

"We have our work cut out for us, no question," Desert Vista coach Angel Singer said. "We lost 8-1 to them (during the season), but three of the matches went to tiebreaker. We were much closer than the score indicates. If we can get those matches to go the other way then we have a shot."

Singer wouldn't put it past this group, not with the way they approach every match.

"I've had great talent before, but this team is so mentally tough," she said.

The Thunder, the only squad from the area remaining, will take on the Gators at the Paseo Raquet Club in Glendale at 1:30 p.m. The winner advances to Thursday's title match against the winner of No. 3 Mesa Mountain View and No. 2 Tucson Salpointe Catholic.

The difference might come down to the back half of the singles matches and Singer is confident her group can handle it.

"They are my go-to girls," Singer said. "We have pulled out a lot of matches because of them."

The Thunder run Justine Quaggan, Kathryn Hunnicutt and Kacie Bottock out as the their top three. Jennifer Kahn, Tori Kammerzell and Amelia Goe fill out the rest of the lineup.

"Regardless of what happens we have had a great season," Singer said. "We are going to give Xavier all we have and see where we stand. It might not be enough, but we can't wait to find out. This is new territory for us and we look forward to the challenge."

After the team tournament ends, Division I individual events resume on Friday at the Phoenix Tennis Center with the round of 32. Winners advance to Saturday where two rounds will be played to get down to the semifinals.

Desert Vista's Hunnicutt is left in singles action where she will take on second-seeded Erica Medlin of Mesquite. The two know each other well after being doubles partners in USTA action.

Mountain Pointe's Mae Maiefski faces Phoenix North Canyon's Sneha Ray to round out the girls players still hopeful for a title.

The boys tournaments have a lot more players left with Mountain Pointe having two left in singles and one in doubles, while Desert Vista has one left in singles and two left in doubles.

Mountain Pointe's Nathan Keso will take on No. 8 Grant Link from Boulder Creek and Mountain Pointe's Samuel Wang faces Chandler's Alex Williams.

Desert Vista is represented in the singles tournament by Bryan Wong as he faces No. 4 C.J. Krimball of Desert Mountain.

In doubles action, the Thunder's Karl Leclerc and Mohammad Saleem will be challenged by Hamilton's duo of Andy Yuwen and Sebastian Vargas.

Daniel Chen and Connor Whigham are also left for Desert Vista, while Pride's Mark Karlsrud and Monty Roth are also vying for the Division I state title.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com

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