Tennis postseason cranks up this week - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Sports

Tennis postseason cranks up this week

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Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 5:45 am | Updated: 4:20 pm, Thu May 15, 2014.

Austin Goe knows what it takes.

The first-year Desert Vista boys tennis coach helped the Thunder to a state semifinal appearance in 2009 as a senior after the Thunder made the state finals in 2008.

The 2008 squad was the fourth seed and knocked off No. 1 Corona del Sol before losing to Salpointe Catholic in the championship match.

This year Thunder won’t be seeded that high, but now that Desert Vista is healthy it could make some noise.

“We are better than (the projected 10th seed) and hopefully we can show it,” Goe said during a match at Dobson. “We are healthy and ready.”

Individual tournaments get started on Friday with the Division I tournament being held at Indian School Park in Scottsdale. Each school can enter two singles and two doubles teams.

The first two rounds are played Friday with the third round on Saturday.

The team tournament starts on Tuesday with the top 16 teams playing at the higher the seed. The action doesn’t resume again until Tuesday, May 6 with the second round. The semifinals are May 9 and 10 at Saddle Ranch Park.

In between, the individual tournaments resume Friday, May 2 with the fourth round while the semifinals and finals are played May 3.

In other words, there is a lot of tennis to be played in the coming week. The question is how long area teams and individuals can stick around?

Both Desert Vista squads will make the tournament with the Thunder girls, currently ranked seventh at 11-2, poised to earn a first-round home match as a top eight seed, and the Desert Vista boys, who are 9-4 heading into Tuesday’s match against No. 2 Desert Mountain, and Mountain Pointe girls, who are 8-5 and No. 12, expected to open on the road.

The Mountain Pointe boys, who had its top three players either transfer or decide not to play, will see their hapless season end as the Pride sit at 0-12 heading into Tuesday’s match at home against No. 6 Corona del Sol.

The Thunder girls have a squad that can challenge for the team title when it is playing at its best, but a recent 5-4 loss to No. 10 Chaparral suggests the route to the semifinals might not be as easy as expected.

Desert Vista has three players who can hold down the No. 1 singles position so it will be interesting to see how they get entered into the individual state tournament.

Melissa Kahn, Yolena Carlon and Tori Kammerzel have been a difficult match up all season long. The No. 1 doubles team of Carlon and Kammerzel have been very good as well.

“They are all pretty good and I’d feel comfortable with any of them at No. 1,” Thunder coach Angel Singer said earlier this season.

The Pride girls have beaten the teams it was expected to but haven’t been consistent enough to hang with the top teams. ViAnn Pham, Larae Keso, Nila Sharma and Rachel Mantlik have been the top players.

The Thunder boys are led by Yusef Saleem at No. 1 singles, while Aditya Ballom, Josh Caballero, Tommy Mai and Alex Cook will most likely make up the state lineup.

Saleem was around the program when Goe was playing for the Thunder and Ahmad Saleem, Yusef’s older brother, was No. 1 singles who won an individual state title.

“They are a lot alike,” Goe said. “Yusef is very talented, but he needs to have the confidence it takes to be a great player like his brother was. The talent is there.”

The younger Saleem, a sophomore, feels he reached a new level under the guidance of Goe.

“I’m mentally tougher, ready to keep playing no matter how I am playing,” he said. “If I started losing I had trouble coming back, but I always think I can win now.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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Jason P. Skoda
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