The high school team-tennis titles shifted back to the north end of the 101 freeway this year, as Phoenix’s Brophy Prep and Xavier Prep wrested the state boys and girls championships from Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic.
Salpointe swept the titles last year, playing in the old 5A-I division, beating the Brophy boys’ squad and the Xavier girls in the finals. This year, 5A-I and 5A-II were combined into Division I – but the addition of the top 5A-II teams did little to change the outcome of the state tournament.
It still came down to the old 5A-I powers winning it all.
Brophy and Xavier both took out their revenge on Salpointe in the semi-finals, with Brophy wining its match, 5-2, to move on to meet Desert Mountain High School in the title match. The Broncos had to work their way through some tight singles matches, but eventually defeated their Scottsdale opponent, 5-1, for their third state title in the last four years.
Xavier blew past Salpointe in the semis, despite its No. 1 singles player, Madison Clarke, falling to a sprained ankle in her match. The Gators swept the rest of the singles matches and went on to a 5-1 victory and the right to meet Scottsdale’s Chaparral High School in the finals.
As it turned out, the Gators had even less trouble with Chaparral, last year’s state 5A-II champion. Xavier didn’t even need to win any of the doubles competition, rolling to a 5-0 victory.
The Firebirds were unable to take Xavier to more than two sets all the way through the singles competition. Each of the six Xavier players that won in two sets included Clarke, Maggie Cohen, Emily Serrano, Scarlet Rush, Madison Majerle, and Kendra Mahoney.
For Brophy, it was the No. 6 singles match that clinched the win for the Broncos – and proved to be the highlight event of the finals. The match went just 15 minutes shy of four hours before Alex Curtis was able to come from behind and put Mitchell Victor away with a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 win.
Curtis was carried off the court, but not in celebration. He had developed severe leg cramps during the final set and barely made it through.
There was nothing unusual about the state title going to Brophy; the Broncos have won three of the last four. But the one difference in the results of this year’s state tournament was the fact that they didn’t play Salpointe for the championship.
It has been 16 years since a boys’ team other than Brophy or Salpointe has held the final top two places.
For Xavier, this was a monumental win. It did more than just keep the Lancers from their fourth straight state championship.
Winning the state title enabled Xavier to get past a huge psychological barrier. The Gators have made it to the title match in four of the past six years, but lost them all – until this year.
And for Salpointe, it means getting used to a new role going into next season.
The Lancers’ boys team has won six of the last seven state titles, and the girls’ have also pocketed six.
Next year, neither can claim the title of defending state champion.