Avoid looking at the seeding of the state 5A-I boys tennis tournament and rushing to judgment.
Although Tempe Corona del Sol, behind Garret Dunn, is sitting at No. 1, coaches are putting their stock in the four-time defending champion from down south: Tucson Salpointe Catholic.
As action begins for 5A-I and 5A-II boys and girls tennis today across the state, Salpointe’s No. 3 seeding, based on its schedule and power-ranking quirks, is not to be misinterpreted.
“Salpointe has the best top three in the state,” said Phoenix Brophy coach Bill Woods, whose team lost to Salpointe in a California tournament earlier this season. (The loss did not count in the power rankings). “To upset Salpointe, you must win at least the 4-6 singles matches and either hope for an upset in the top three singles or find a way to win two of the doubles. Both of those are very difficult roads to an upset.”
Phoenix Mountain Pointe’s Dan Ray agreed.
“They should be able to win three singles and their top two doubles with just about every team,” Ray said.
That said, the dark-horse position then falls to Tempe Corona del Sol, which, said Woods and Ray, has the depth needed to pull off the scenario Woods outlined.
Brophy does have two dangerous players who will press for the advantage in sophomores Eric Chalmers and Chris Salvatore. The team also returns six of its seven starters from last year to go up against Salpointe’s Cameron Ahari and Josh Brown.
Fourth-seeded Phoenix Desert Vista, with Jacob Barnaby and Ahmad Saleem, could also make an impact.
An interesting early match is No. 7 Chandler Hamilton vs. No. 10 Mountain Pointe. Hamilton coach Phil Gonzales is pleased with his team’s success, but knows it will have its hands full with the Pride, especially with defending state champion Andy Nguyen leading the charge.
It might not be any clearer in girls 5A-I, although top-seeded Phoenix Xavier enters the tournament undefeated.
Xavier coach Laurie Martin does not discount the threat of No. 2 Mesa Mountain View, with Mele Iongi and Emma LeCavalier, and No. 3 (and defending champion) Salpointe in favorable position to challenge the Gators.
“I feel Mountain View is the favorite with the late season addition of (senior) Julie Tukuafu (ranked 26th in the Southwest),” Martin said. “We played them at the end of February, and Julie was not on the team, as well as Anika Huish, who only played doubles.”
Martin, whose Xavier team is led by Ashlee Wingersky and Sarah Serrano, said that should things go as expected, a match with Salpointe should be “a good semifinal match and preparation for the finals.”
Corona del Sol is the No. 4 seed behind Kelsey Lawson, and a young Gilbert Mesquite team, led by freshman Erica Medlin, is seeded fifth.
However, this will be a particularly interesting matchup as Mesquite pairs up against last year’s 5A-II champion, Scottsdale Desert Mountain, in the Wolves’ first state tournament in 5A-I.
5A-II Girls and Boys
Scottsdale Horizon’s girls and boys teams are the highest seeds from the East Valley.
Horizon’s girls team, behind Shelley Johnson at singles and Chelsi Redpath and Cassie Corcoran at doubles, are the No. 2 seed.
Horizon and top-seed Anthem Boulder Creek were separated in the power rankings by .21 of a point.
“We feel we have a good chance of being state champion,” Horizon coach Bill Dillon said.
Horizon’s boys team is the No. 3 seed with Avondale Westview seeded first and Phoenix North second.