After suffering its first loss of the season Monday to Lake Havasu, the Gila Ridge girls tennis team rebounded with a 7-2 win over Kofa Tuesday afternoon.
Though the Hawks' undefeated streak came to an end the day before, Gila Ridge's No. 2 singles player Tayler McKenna kept her undefeated status alive, beating Kofa No. 2 Mitzy Rangel 6-1, 6-0.
“She's having an awesome season,” Gila Ridge head coach Becky Spencer said. “She has a really good down-the-line shot, so it's just more moving the girls around versus them moving her around. We've been doing that with all the girls this year.”
McKenna played most of the match close to the net when she could, forcing Rangel to lob shots over McKenna's head. Rangel was able to drop in a few behind McKenna, but most of them went long.
According to Kofa coach Danillo Montialli, there are ways to combat a player like that, but her freshman No. 2 player just hasn't conquered them yet.
“You can go and attack wide, either down the line,” Montialli said. “But Mitzy was too worried about lobbing. Without top spin, it's a rookie mistake. Once she feels more comfortable with her shots, she'll be able to just rip the ball across Tayler and discourage her from coming up to the net.”
During the second set, Rangel successfully lobbed a shot over McKenna's head. With Katlyn Jones looking on, McKenna attempted a behind-the-back shot but couldn't quite reach it.
“At practice we always mess around,” McKenna said with a laugh. “(Jones) always makes these crazy shots and hits it behind her head. I don't know how she does it, she's trying to teach me.”
After winning a match at Crim Smash, Montialli is happy with the progress his freshman No. 2 has shown.
“She's really working hard and she enjoys being in that spot,” he said. “She already has goals for next year. She's still finding her shots and learning how to win points and that's going to take time, but the more you play and the more you're exposed to that level, the better you get.”
Kofa No. 1 Michelle Manon continued her undefeated season, defeating Jones 6-1, 6-0.
“I would think that she's just playing hard,” Montialli said. “She's trying her best and has a focus, which is to go and do well in state. She's just working hard for that and she's not taking a day off.”
Although the loss to Lake Havasu was a disappointing one, Spencer thinks it was a necessary one.
“We beat them the first time 5-4. It was challenging, but we took it. I think that our girls kind of had an undefeated attitude, which happens. Hopefully today's match will help resolve that and be more humble about our wins.”