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Castro tops teammate, cousin to win boys title
The boys championship match at the Crim Smash tennis tournament had everything, including a 6-4, 2-6, 10-6 win for Cibola's Albert Castro over fellow Raider and cousin Luis Franco on Saturday at the Yuma High courts.
Last year, Franco didn't make it past the second round. Castro was one of the top players coming in but was knocked out of the winners' bracket early.
“It feels pretty good coming back, getting my game back up,” Castro said. “Last year I had some problems, but I just left that behind. Out with the old and in with the new.”
Franco was also happy he rebounded from last year, when the tournament was known as the Magin Invite.
“Last year, man, I was horrible,” Franco said. “This year I trained a little better and I played really well.”
Castro opened the semifinals Saturday with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Gila Ridge's Cody Nickerson. Franco topped Kofa No. 1 Ryan Thornburg 6-1, 7-5 to get into the final.
In the third-place match, Thornburg topped Nickerson 6-4, 6-1.
“He typically starts really slow,” Kofa coach Dean Cain said. “But he was right in it in the second set (against Franco). It was much better. That's typically what he does, starts off slow then starts rolling back. But he just wasn't consistent in all his ground strokes.”
In the fifth-place match, Cibola's Brett Boyer topped Eduardo Mendez 6-1, 6-0, ending the San Luis' No. 5 Cinderella run. Sidewinder co-coach Ian McDougall said Mendez almost started the year on the junior varsity team, but instead was the team's No. 6 and before the start of this weekend's tournament, moved up to No. 5.
“He could even keep climbing,” McDougall said. “He just keeps getting better and better. He got kind of a lucky draw to start, but came out and got wins against two decent players yesterday. ... To come out as a No. 6 with every other player ranked above you out here, that's pretty impressive. He came up against Brett Boyer, who's just a great athlete, and got beat. But it's a great showing for our school and for him to come out of nowhere and finish in the Top 6 of a tournament.”
In the championship match, Franco took a 3-2 lead in the first set and was serving, but Castro broke the serve and won the next three games. In the final game, he was down 15-40 but used his big serve — which Cibola coach Duncan Phillips estimated at 115 to 120 miles per hour — to score and ace, then came back to win the game and the set.
“Those two guys are hard-working players,” Phillips said. “Honestly, they expected to be in the finals. I expected them to be in the finals. And they played well.”
In the second set, Franco was up 2-1 but trailing 0-30 in the fourth game when he used his strength and speed, to make Castro run all over the court. He came back, eventually went up 4-1 and coasted.
“His forehands are the best,” Castro said. “He made me run corner to corner.”
Castro started serving the 10-point tiebreaker, and won all three points on his serve to put Franco in a hole he couldn't climb out of.
“He's improved a lot,” Castro said. “I knew me and him were going to play because everyone is saying me and him are the best players in Yuma. So I had a feeling I was going to play him in the finals. We told each other whoever loses, no hard feelings. Just play our game.”