The only thing more painful for Monty Roth than fracturing his hand while slipping on the wet tile in his bathroom was returning to the tennis court against Corona del Sol’s Alex Lawson.
Facing the defending state champion in his first match back from the early season layoff wasn’t ideal, but Roth saw exactly what it takes to beat the state’s No. 1 seed.
“He’s the best and I hope I get another shot and show that I was still rusty,” Roth said of the meeting that happened the week after spring break. “He’s a great player and I probably wasn’t ready to play at that level, but I’ve gotten better since then.”
Roth and the rest of the state get a chance to prove their worth starting with today’s Division I first round of the individual state tournament.
The boys and girls singles and doubles tournaments get under way today at various times and locations.
Among them is Roth, who experienced some success at state last season as a doubles team after winning three matches before being knocked out in the Sweet 16.
“I think that will help me a lot because I can learn from that experience even though it was doubles,” Roth said. “I know what it takes to win at state, and hopefully I can get on a good roll.”
The tournament field has been narrowed as each team is allowed to enter only one singles player and one doubles after entering two of each in previous years.
Only two area entrants were able to grab a seed and both came from the Desert Vista girls program.
In singles, freshman Melissa Kahn is the sixth seed while her teammates Jennifer Khan and Carolyn Rath, both seniors, are the sixth seed in doubles.
The younger Kahn sister has been terrific all season with her only defeat thus far coming against Salpointe’s Courtney Amos, who is on the same side of the 56-player bracket.
If all of the seeds hold true, which rarely happens, Kahn would come across third-seeded and defending champion Mariely Hassey of Centennial, in the Sweet 16 with Amos, who was the top seed last year but defaulted out in the third round, a possible matchup in the semifinals.
Of course, that is far from happening. Kahn has a first-round bye and would face Mountain Pointe’s Mae Maiefski in the second round should the latter get past Valley Vista’s Olivia Perkins.
It’s an unfortunate circumstance as it guarantees that one of the area’s top players is gone by the second round and both players have proven to be much better players.
Kahn is ranked in the USTA’s Southwest Section and had a fantastic freshman campaign for Desert Vista, while Maiefski has been nearly as good this season and has the confidence of advancing to the Division I Elite Eight last season.
The Thunder doubles team would take on the third-seeded tandem from Mesa Mountain View if the former can advance to the Sweet 16.
The Mountain Ponte duo of Carla Poplawsky and ViAnn Pham are unseeded and open the tournament by facing Maryvale’s duo before coming across Hamilton’s top doubles team, which is the seventh seed.
In the boys doubles tournament, Mountain Pointe’s David Battock and Jonah Matanky open against Basha with a win placing them against the Chaparral combo, which is seeded eighth.
The Thunder duo of Sanjay Ramiah and Daniel Chen seemingly have an easier path to the Sweet 16 as they potentially won’t face a seeded opponent until the third round where a fifth-seeded Mesquite squad could provide some resistance.
In the boys singles event, Desert Vista has entered junior Mohammad Saleem, whose brother, Ahmad, won the singles title in 2010. He is expected to make a deep run and to do so will likely have to knock off Millennium’s Nick Cunningham, the fifth seed, and fourth-seeded CJ Krimbill of Desert Mountain to advance to the Elite Eight.
Then there is Roth, who feels he has finally knocked off the rust and put himself in position to pull off some upsets.
He starts with Brett Boyer of Cibola with third-seeded Nolan Bauer of Chaparral possibly waiting in the third round and No. 6 John Nelson of Highland in the Sweet 16.
One thing is for sure, both Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe have prepared well for the state tournament.
“The new schedule has been difficult, we are playing tough teams every time out it seems like,” Pride coach Larry Holmes said. “While it was tough on them during the season, it really prepared them for state.”
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