Geoff Embry has already mentally played out the dream scenario for his final state tennis tournament: It’s him against Tucson Salpointe’s Tommy McGeorge in the 5A Division I championship match.
And Embry proves history meaningless by defeating McGeorge for the first time in high school play and reversing last year’s state championship outcome.
So far, the drama has unfolded only in the mind of the Mountain Pointe senior. This week, his body intends to act it out starting with today’s opening of the state team tournament.
Though last year’s three-set loss is ancient history in Embry’s mind, he knows this is his last chance before heading to the University of Oregon to play in the Pac-10.
This week, however, is the culmination of Embry’s preparation. It’s why he spent last week with several other Valley players in Palm Spring, Calif., at the Easter Bowl, playing against some of the best junior players.
“I thought I played pretty good in California, but the level of players there, everyone is good,” Embry said. “They were good and he just outplayed me.”
He lost both his singles and doubles matches in California, but his confidence hasn’t wavered. Playing in California and again in Tucson over the weekend — where he beat McGeorge 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday at the Arizona Junior Open, a USTA event — were simply a means to refine his game for the state tournament.
“He really wants to win,” Mountain Pointe coach Dan Ray said. “All the ducks are trying to get in a row for this to be his chance to set up for it.”
His entrance into the tennis world began at age 4, but it wasn’t until last year he saw the fruits of his 10 to 15 weekly hours of labor on the practice court, shuffling between Mountain Pointe and Ahwatukee Tennis Club, where he also works with personal coach Mike Henneberry.
Although Embry wasn’t winning tournaments, he felt good about his game. He defeated the then-No. 1 16-year-old (according to the USTA rankings), then nearly knocked off another No. 1 a short time later.
He and teammate Erik Sheldon reached the final match of the state doubles tournament for Mountain Pointe in 2004, then was moved to singles last year.
As he’s starting to fill out his 5-foot-10, 155-pound frame, those who watch him say his serve is the biggest improvement.
“You can’t really let that stuff bother you,” Embry said of falling short of previous titles. “It’ll just keep snowball effect into your next match.”
Winning, however, would alleviate that problem.
“It’s always a good match,” Embry said of his battles with McGeorge. “Plus I want some revenge.”