Prep Girls Tennis Previews
Last year: 9-3
Top returners: Leslie Cruz Rivera, sr.; Amrutha Donoparthi, sr.; Shelby Chambless, jr.; Ajitha Donoparthi, soph.
Key newcomers: Kim Harris, fresh.; Sarah Haws, fresh.
Coach Duncan Phillips comments: “The girls, I think they were one or two places out of going to state. That was a little disappointing. We looked at it and said good grief, with this nucleus, let's accelerate the pace. There's no reason these girls can't go to the state tournament. That's our goals for the girls too, we want to go to the state tournament. ”
The lowdown: Coach Duncan has taken over both the boys and girls varsity tennis programs at Cibola this season, integrating practice into a seamless program. Duncan emphasized that the top six boys and girls players practice everything together including matches, tie breakers and movement drills. Duncan's happy with the experiment so far and says the girls love the new level of intensity it has brought to the program.
Gila Ridge Hawks
Last year: 6-6
Top returners: Katlyn Jones, sr.; Tayler McKenna, sr.; Alice Fiddler, sr.; Michala, Weick sr.
Key newcomers: Cara Henry, sr.; Alexis Gonzalez, soph.
Coach Becky Spencer comments: “As a new coach one of my biggest ones is team bonding, making sure that the team is always talking to each other and being supportive and showing sportsmanship. That's always been a huge thing that they're watching each other and supporting each other and having a good positive attitude out on the court with each other and with their opponents and also off the court.”
The lowdown: Spencer was hired to take over the tennis program at Gila Ridge just before Christmas break and hasn't had a whole lot of time to get to know her players. In the fall she helps coach volleyball at Cibola and coaches basketball at her middle school. Despite the little time she's had, she says she's seen the Hawks execute good technique, footwork and ability to get to the ball.
San Luis Sidewinders
Last year: 8-4
Top returners: Yaretzi Virgen, jr.; Ana Hernandez, sr; Liliana Rodriguez, jr.; Melissa Mata, jr.; Bahabica Soni, soph.
Coach Julissa Hutchinson's comments: “Obviously when it's your first year you have high expectations, but it's just a little bit intimidating for the most part. I'm trying to be aggressive but not too aggressive, that way the girls have a mind set, we have to win. This is a Latin community and for the most part we need to represent that. Tennis is not a big sport out here, it's always about football or soccer, so for the most part we want to go ahead and see if we can rise up and leave that behind.”
The lowdown: Another first year coach and former Sidewinder star, Julissa Hutchinson is looking to bring the program back to the level it was before she left for Alabama on a tennis scholarship in 2008. Hutchinson inherits five returning seniors and says that their knowledge of the game will be an important key to San Luis' success this year.
Yuma High Criminals
Last year: 0-12
Top returners: Andrea Urquidez, sr. Anqelica Urquidez, sr.; Nicole Pelroy, jr.; Jeni Johnson, jr
Key newcomers: Clarissa Monroy, soph.; Juli Ter Hark, soph.
Coach Michael Moreno's comments: “I did some work with them in the summer just on technique, hitting fore hands and back hands and serving. It's just strategy, a lot of them know how to hit the ball but they don't know why they need to hit it cross court or why they need to hit it down low, a lot of it is strategy and technique.
The lowdown: Yuma coach Michael Moreno expects bigger and better things from his team this year after going 0-12 last season. He likes what he's seen in offseason workouts and is returning a good group of players led by his twin seniors Andrea and Anqelica Urquidez.
-Capsules by Matt Carstens