The temperature was inching up near a sizzling 100 degrees by the time the No. 6 singles match in the boys’ competition got underway at last year’s high school Division I team tennis championships.
That final match between Alex Curtis from Brophy Prep and Mitchell Victor from Desert Mountain High School was the one that would clinch the win for Brophy. It went almost four hours, and when it was done, Curtis was carried off the court after battling through severe leg cramps to post the 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 victory.
Brophy won the team title again this year over the weekend, but with a different opponent this time – and with much less effort. The Broncos took down their old nemesis from Tucson, Salpointe Catholic, in five straight matches to win their second straight team title and the fourth in five years.
It was a familiar scene to tennis followers in the state: Brophy and Salpointe meeting for a state championship. Last year was one of the few times over the last decade that a meeting for the title didn’t happen; Salpointe lost to Brophy in the semi-finals.
But this year the challenge was not as steep for Brophy. The Broncos had already won the boys’ singles and doubles titles last week and Saturday they rolled through the team competition with wins by J.J. Good (6-4, 6-1), Kyle Chalmers ( (6-0, 7-5), Zach Cihlar (6-4, 6-4), David Akin (7-5, 7-6), and Christian Franco (7-5, 6-2).
Xavier Prep also won five matches in a row to cruise to the girls’ team title, a repeat of last year when it beat Chaparral High School in five straight sets for the championship. This year, they were even more dominant than when they faced the Firebirds in 2012.
Emily Serrano got the ball rolling for the Gators with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Ally Breece and was followed by wins from Madison Clarke (6-1, 6-0), Scarlet Rush (6-3, 6-3), Savannah Koss-Aposhian (6-0, 6-3), and Anne Marie Collins (7-5, 6-4).
For both of the Phoenix Catholic schools, the team championships wrapped up a sweep for each school this year, since Brophy and Xavier both won the singles and doubles titles last week.
The play in Division II turned out to be much more exciting this year, as both the girls’ and boys’ team titles were decided in the day’s final doubles matches.
Ironwood Ridge High School took a four-match lead over previously-undefeated Notre Dame Prep in the boys’ competition, but had to hold off a surge by the Saints, who tied it at 4-4 and left it up to the No. 2 doubles match to decide it.
Notre Dame went up 7-4 in the final match, but the Ridge’s Alex Bose and Ryan Knox rallied to win six straight games and eventually take the match 10-7 and secure the state team title.
On the girls’ side, Catalina Foothills High School won its 12th team championship in 14 years by avenging its title loss to Ironwood Ridge last year – but not without a struggle.
Catalina and the Ridge played to a 4-4 tie and left it up to the Bhat sisters to bring home the championship. Rachana and Kirtana Bhat beat Marissa Baca and Kelsey Brown, the same team they had to conquer last week to win the state doubles title, in a tightly-contested 10-6 win.