With temperatures in the triple digits, it must have felt so hot that Division I team tennis semifinal players felt they needed to play with oven mitts on Friday (May 5) at Scottsdale Ranch Park.
Top-seeded Scottsdale Desert Mountain was the hotter of the two teams, using wins by its top four singles players to pave the way for a 5-2 victory over fifth-seeded Xavier Prep, ending the Gators’ season. Both teams struggled at times with the heat.
Desert Mountain will face defending state champion Mesa Mountain View in Saturday’s title match at the Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale. Mountain View advanced by defeating Scottsdale Chaparral on Friday.
Xavier coach Laurie Martin could find a bit of comfort in knowing she will lose only two players to graduation (Jordan Craft, Shelby Daniel) and had just one of those (Craft) in the starting singles lineup. Three singles starters are freshmen.
“We didn’t really know for sure how it would go when the season started, but we were able to develop some depth,’’ Martin said.
“We grew a lot as a team and improved all year.’’
But Desert Mountain, which defeated Xavier earlier in the season, is in a similar situation. The Wolves only have one senior singles player (Ashley Moore) and the rest are underclassmen, including nationally ranked sophomore Josie Frazier, who is ranked 30th in the nation by at least one college monitoring service.
Martin felt her team had a good chance going into the match, but when Frazier stepped onto the court after shedding a boot that aided in healing a foot injury that limited her most of the season, the scales tipped in favor of the Wolves. Frazier played in the No. 2 slot and defeated Xavier freshman Erica Stutz, who last week claimed the state singles consolation prize.
Sophomore Tristanne Dechoux, Stutz, Craft and freshman Emily Even fell in their singles matches, while junior Maddy Corley and freshman Jessica Miramelli won to force the match into doubles. A win by the No. 2 doubles team clinched the match for Desert Mountain.