Athlete of the week: Mele Iongi - The Mesa Mountain View junior helped her team capture the girls team title and the combined title at the recent Kiwanis tennis invitational and also helped establish the Toros as a potential challenger to the state 5A-I title.
Iongi is currently ranked first in the Southwest in the Girls’ 18 division, ahead of notable Valley stars such as Scottsdale Notre Dame’s Courtney Byron and Gilbert’s Kacie Wagner.
Iongi did not play in prep competition last year but came back and, alongside teammate Emma LeCavalier, won the doubles competition at Kiwanis.
Beyond the box score
Mesa Mountain View girls tennis coach Katie Roberson has missed the past four weeks of the season. Roberson recently underwent surgery to remove a benign tumor.
Toros athletic director David Hines expects Roberson to miss another two weeks before returning to action.
“She’s alright,” Hines said. “She just needs some time to recover.”
Time flies: As surprising as it may be, the tennis regular season is already half over, with just four weeks left before regional play and state individual and team championships.
In 5A-I, early power rankings have Phoenix Xavier, Mountain View and Mesa Red Mountain as the top three girls teams.
Xavier and Red Mountain are undefeated thus far at 7-0, while Mountain View is 7-1.
All three teams are deep this year with several regionally ranked athletes on their rosters, including Ashlee Wingersky and Sarah Serrano at Xavier and Red Mountain’s Hilary Valenzuela.
Phoenix Desert Vista may suddenly have become a team to challenge Tucson Salpointe for boys supremacy. Desert Vista, behind the duo of Jacob Barnaby and Ahmad Saleem, is undefeated at 7-0 and atop the 5A-I standings.
Following Desert Vista are Tempe Corona del Sol, Mesa Red Mountain, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, and Phoenix Brophy.
Knight and day: Gilbert Higley has started its season at 3-1 after an 8-1 win over Tempe High this week.
Higley coach Don Anderson sees improvement in his squad, even in a 6-3 loss to 4A power Scottsdale Arcadia last week.
“Even though we lost (the Arcadia) match we felt good about our performance,” Anderson said. “Last year we went 0-9 against them in both matches.”
The Knights are tied for third in 4A-II with Arcadia in the current power rankings.
March 11th: Mesa Dobson at Mountain View girls; Mountain View at Dobson boys; Higley at Queen Creek girls, Queen Creek at Higley boys; Chandler at Chandler Hamilton girls; Hamilton at Chandler boys; Mesquite at Highland, Highland at Mesquite boys.