Tennis season under way, programs look to stay on top - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Tennis season under way, programs look to stay on top

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Posted: Monday, February 21, 2011 8:00 am | Updated: 6:24 pm, Tue Mar 22, 2011.

The four area tennis coaches have seen a rise in numbers, the return of former players and because of it the talent on each squad could make for some promising seasons.

The year began on Tuesday with matches against each other – the Mountain Pointe boys won 5-4 and the Desert Vista girls won 9-0 – with signs that 2011 could be a good year.

On the girls side, Mountain Pointe has 30 players on the roster, and it is going to stay that way.

“I don’t believe in cutting players because tennis is a life-long sport,”

Pride coach Rick Carter said. “Our top six are going to play, but if the others can develop a love for it while getting better then we accomplished what we set out to do.”

Mountain Pointe will try to defend its East Valley Region title with Mae Maifeski and Anastasia Pushkarenko interchangeable as No. 1 and No. 2.

“They are pretty close,” Carter said. “We will start the season with Mae as No. 1 and see how she does.”

Other top players include seniors Tana Klinger, Ile Luperico and Rachel Dominy. While the start to the season was rough, Carter believes the team is ready for whatever comes its way.

“The family-type unity of the team keeps them strong and motivated to do well,” he said.

The Desert Vista girls squad is a regular postseason participant, making it all six years under coach Angel Singer. This could be one of the better teams she has coached.

“We can be right there,” she said. “The top programs like Xavier and Salpointe are going to be there, but I think we can make a run at that next level.”

Senior Justine Quaggan played at No. 1 all last season and starts there again with senior Kacie Bottock at the No. 3. One of the intriguing players is senior Kathryn Hunnicutt, who was ranked on the junior tour before deciding not to play last season.

Once the rust comes off she could move into the top spot; either way the team is happy to have her back.

“She gives us added depth because everyone drops down a spot and makes them that much better,” Singer said. “Justine and Kat will a make tough one-two punch.”

The boys teams should be state qualifying teams and with a little luck a deep postseason run is not out of the question for both squads.

That’s too far away to predict, but the talent is there.

For Mountain Pointe the top players for coach Larry Holmes are Sam Wang, Nathan Keso and Mark Karlsrud.

The Pride lost in the first round of state last season to the Thunder. In the individual tournament, Keso made a nice impression by winning three matches to get down to the quarterfinals of the 32-man bracket.

Desert Vista is coming off a state semifinal berth, but will have to do without the graduated state champion Ahmad Saleem.

Leading the way this year will be Karl Leclerc, Bryan Wong and Mohammad Saleem.

“When it comes down to it we are a top-eight team,” Thunder coach Wayne Brimley said. “We’ve been pretty consistent over the years and one through six we are pretty solid. If we can get to the next level getting to the final four is possible.”

The state format for the team and individuals has changed as there are only three tournaments compared to six in years past.

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Jason P. Skoda
  • Jason P. Skoda
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  • Resident sports writer at the Ahwatukee Foothills News

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