Even though unselfish Mountain Pointe senior Dan Nguyen held his own Monday, his goal for the year came up short.
Nguyen, the top seed in boys singles for next weekend’s 5A state individual tennis tournament, more than anything else was hoping for a Pride title in the 5A state team tourney, which ends today.
But Phoenix Brophy, the defending champion, indicated that reports of its demise were exaggerated as it ousted the Pride 5-1 in semifinal play Monday at Glendale’s Paseo Racquet Center.
Brophy will go for its ninth consecutive state title today, but it will be a tough task against favored Tucson Salpointe, which defeated Brophy 8-1 during the regular season. Salpointe toppled Desert Mountain 5-2 in the other boys semifinal.
The day was equally as rough for the two East Valley entrants on the girls side. Despite a victory from defending 5A state champion Lynley Wasson, Corona del Sol fell to five-time defending champion Phoenix Xavier 5-1. Xavier can defend its team title today with a win over Salpointe, which had no trouble ousting Highland 6-0.
Nguyen will still have the individual singles title to shoot for beginning Thursday. As the top seed last year, he fell to Glendale Mountain Ridge’s second-seeded Nathan Cochrane in straight sets, just after he led the Pride to an upset victory over Salpointe in the semifinals.
"I had hoped that out of the top four singles, we’d have at least gotten three of them," Mountain Pointe boys coach Bob Wakefield said. "Two (singles wins) would have been OK. Then we’d have gotten all of our doubles teams out there."
Nguyen’s 6-4, 6-2 win over Haris Hadzihalilovic at No. 1 singles was expected. No. 2 Geoff Embry took Brophy’s Alex Weiland to a tiebreaker in the first set before falling, 7-6, (7-4), 6-0. Brophy’s No. 3 Adam Perez topped Erik Sheldon, 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 and its No. 4, Craig Kessler, topped Paul Kierstead, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. The Nos. 5 and 6 matches went clearly Brophy’s way, although Mountain Pointe’s No. 3 doubles team of Erik Johnson and Kirum Kaumar, which Wakefield said was his weakest doubles team, were tied 2-2 with Dan England and Tristan Rice before the match was called for indifference.
Desert Mountain’s No. 3 Ross DeChant and No. 4 Paul Goldberg were winners in singles play Monday, which forced the match into doubles play, where Salpointe’s top team of Peter Zimmer and Tommy McGeorge defeated Pierce Lagermeier and DeChant 10-1 to end the match. Zimmer is the No. 2 seed behind Nguyen this week in the individual tournament. He also had no trouble toppling Lagermeier in Monday’s No. 1 singles play 6-2, 6-1.
Wasson, a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Lindsey Griffin, remained unbeaten on the year but couldn’t carry Corona. Only No. 5 player Beth Lyons, a 6-1, 7-6 (7-1) loser to Kelsey Grubb, was close to sending the match into doubles play. Xavier had defeated Corona 7-2 during the regular season.
"Xavier has a lot of depth and they’re tournament-tested kids," Corona coach Carol Sandvig said. "That’s what we’re lacking at (Nos.) 3, 4 and 5."
The Highland girls benefited from a favorable quadrant as the AIA opted not to seed teams this year. But Salpointe, led by No. 1 Claire Soper, the state singles runner-up and the second seed in singles play this year, handled Kim Thomson 6-0, 6-1. Highland’s No. 2, Megan Speirs, battled Andrea Sailer, 6-4, 6-2 and No. 5 Shayna Wardrop fell to Salpointe’s No. 5, Emilee Feldhausen 6-4, 6-1.