Hawks tennis set for team state
After seeing all of its players eliminated from the individual tennis tournament this weekend, Yuma still has two more chances to bring home hardware.
Both the Gila Ridge boys and girls tennis teams qualified for team state: the boys as a No. 10 seed and the girls as a No. 16 seed.
It's the first time in the school's five-year history that the girls have made it to state, and under first-year coach Becky Spencer they will face No. 1-seeded Notre Dame Prep.
“It's going to be hard,” Spencer said. “We're going up against the No. 1-ranked team so we're just focusing on playing hard. Just because we hear how great they are doesn't mean we just give up. You still play your hardest.”
The Hawks had a nearly perfect season, losing only one match to Lake Havasu while their No. 1 and No. 2 singles players Katlyn Jones and Tayler McKenna went undefeated individually.
“We just worked hard this season,” Spencer said, who coaches with her brother, Brian. “We didn't know what to expect, we didn't know the girls at the beginning and we've just worked really hard and it's been humbling. It's been a really good experience and we're really excited to be the ones to take them.”
Spencer saw some of the Notre Dame Prep players at the individual tournament and noticed certain tendencies that she hopes her players can combat.
“We're working on second serves,” she said, “mainly because we saw a lot of Notre Dame girls just smashing that second serve. We're also working on down-the-line shots and just hustling to the ball.”
The Gila Ridge boys drew No. 7 seed Campo Verde, which coach Ben Holskin also saw at the individual tournament.
“(I saw) their top three players and they looked pretty strong,” Holskin said. “But it wasn't anything that we can't handle.”
Like the girls, the boys had only one loss on the season, losing to Calexico early in the year.
“(Depth) has been to our advantage all year in Yuma,” Holskin said. “Our team has been the deepest team in the town and even with the teams we've played outside of town, too. It's been a major advantage.”
According to Holskin, his No. 4 singles player Bryant Perez went undefeated.
“Maybe one guy will be matched up well at the top,” Holskin said. “But then we'll have some guys at the bottom that are significantly better than the other team.”
As the top players from both sides shift their focus to state, the team mentality starts to take over as well.
“You're not just playing for yourself,” Spencer said. “When you're out there playing and if you're down or if you're up, you know that you're playing for your team. No matter what, your match counts.”