Qian, Nickerson return to lead for Gila Ridge
Losing is not something Gila Ridge's No. 1 doubles tandem is used to. So when Scotty Nickerson and Kevin Qian lost to defending state champion Ironwood Ridge in the playoffs last year, it was a bit of a shock to their system.
“They were really good,” Nickerson said while laughing.
But Nickerson and Qian are back this year, along with the majority of their teammates on the Gila Ridge varsity squad. Only losing one senior allowed Gila Ridge coach Ben Holskin focus on his own players this offseason.
“It doesn't require any leg work on my part to recruit a whole bunch of new players,” Holskin said. “We do have a couple new young guys who have some talent which is always good, but because we returned so many players there wasn't a whole lot of room for new players.”
The Hawks went 9-4 last year, beating everyone in the region except for Cibola who they split with.
Nickerson and Qian have been on varsity together since their sophomore year and even played doubles together as freshmen.
“It's mostly trial and error at first,” Holskin said of the pairing process. “Then you see who plays well together and who doesn't. I didn't pair them together at first I don't think, but then midway through their sophomore season they played really well together then and been together ever since.”
Communication is key to any doubles team and it's not something that Nickerson and Qian have to worry about.
“We usually we know where we're going to be on the court,” Qian said. “It all comes down to communication.”
But the communication going on isn't always about strategy. Sometimes it's just picking your partner up.
“I would say just not getting on each other,” Holskin said. “Keeping each other positive when things don't go well because at some point one players going to be playing well and the other's not. You have to keep each other motivated and positive. It's a mental thing and the communication can be we have to do this and this and this, but it can also be keeping each other in the match and in the game mentally.”
Other returners for Holskin include his No. 3 and 4 singles players Robin Beauregard and Bryant Perez. Beauregard won a match at state as a sophomore last year.
“He got bigger and stronger over the summer so I'm excited about his prospects,” Holskin said. “The young guys that played on varsity as young guys and now are a little older, those are the guys I have the highest hopes for.”