If you look closely at this year’s high school Tennis Player of the Year recipients, there’s a common thread that connects both champions.
Maybe we’ve uncovered some sort of formula for developing great players.
Kelsey Lawson, a senior from Corona del Sol HS in Tempe, is the girls Player of the Year. Her coach was quoted, talking about her leadership qualities. “Kelsey took it upon herself to lead this young team,” said Carol Sandvig. “She did everything she could to bring the athletes along. She leads by example and work ethic.”
Carlos Bermudez, a junior from Palo Verde HS in Tucson, is the boys Player of the Year. His coach, Paul Reed, said of Bermudez: “He is a leader…he was very helpful in that he helped the other players understand how to play and he helps the other guys understand how to compete.”
See the similarities? Leading by example… helping others.
Both are repeat state champions, Lawson in 5A-I and Bermudez in 4A-II.
Lawson, who has committed to play at DePaul University in Chicago next year, is currently ranked No. 2 in the United States Tennis Association’s Junior Girls 18, southwest section. She went undefeated in singles matches this year (26-0) and then joined with one of the freshman she has brought along this year, Maia Castiglione, to post a 13-3 doubles record.
She has another advantage she shared with Bermudez, which helped her prepare for a successful season. She has a talented brother to play against when she practices on her own. Her sophomore brother, Alex, just repeated as doubles champion.
Bermudez has an older brother, Dominic, who contributes to his practice routine – but also makes it difficult during games. The senior and teammate is the only player to beat Carlos this season, which came in the Gila Region tournament.
But it’s Dominic that is most often frustrated by his little brother. For the second consecutive year, Carlos has beaten his older brother in straight sets as they met for the state singles title. Each year, the brothers were seeded No. 1 and No. 2 in the state tournament.
Last year, Carlos won handily (6-4, 6-1), but this year he had to rally from a 5-4 deficit in the second set before wearing down his brother and winning 6-2, 7-5.
Next year, Carlos won’t have his practice partner around as Dominic heads for Northern Arizona University to play for the Lumberjacks. But it should make for a more peaceful championship, should Carlos return to the title match one last year.
Along with the announcement of the POY selections, other top players in the state were given recognition. On the boys side, in addition to Dominic Bermudez, the list included: Jake Allan, Chaparral HS; James Carr, Marcos de Niza HS; Matt Dunn and Mitch McDaniels, Salpointe Catholic; Daniel Hyman, Catalin Foothills HS; Alex Linberry, Mingus HS; Gabriel Maia, Phoenix Christian; Brandon McMaster, Thatcher HS; Ben Meyer, Valley Lutheran HS; Ahmad Saleem, Desert Vista HS; Kevin Seibs, Cactus Shadows HS; Ryan Shalman and Misha Tentser, St. Gregory; Jeremy Shapiro, Desert Mountain HS; Patrick Taylor, Phoenix Country Day; and Cameron Tehrani, Saguaro HS.
Other notables on the girls side: Priscilla Annoual, Pinnacle HS; Rachanna Bhat and Zania Sufi, Catalina Foothills HS; Lidia Csernak, Hamilton HS; Caroline Eversman, Notre Dame Prep; Emily Harris and Kristie Lee, Desert Mountain HS; Tanya Hetlinger and Allie Scott, Pusch Ridge Christian; Aleeza Kanner, Sunnyslope HS; Cassandra Kovac, Verde Valley HS; Riley Longfield, Northland Prep; Gayatri Malhotra, Verrado HS; Kaydee McHorter, St. David; Erica Medlin, Mesquite HS; and Stepheny Vos, Tombstone HS.