With the Northland Prep, Basis Flagstaff and Coconino girls teams all seeded in the top 10 of their respective divisions, and the NPA and Flagstaff boys squads set to start their postseason on the road, local tennis teams swing into state tournament contests this week.
The No. 5-seeded Basis Flagstaff Yeti and No. 6-seeded Northland Prep Spartans, both seeking to make runs in the Division III championship bracket, play first-round hosts today in Flagstaff. The Yeti, looking to make the best of a turnaround season, take on the AZ College Prep Knights at 3 p.m. on the Thorpe Park courts. The Spartans get the day started with a 1 p.m. match versus the 11th-seeded Phoenix Country Day Eagles at Continental Country Club.
Meanwhile, the Coconino Panthers start their journey for a D-II championship on the road as the No. 10 seed. The Panthers are in Nogales, where the wind has been gusty lately, to face off against the hosting No. 7 Apaches at 3 p.m today.
The D-II Flagstaff Eagles take a No. 14 ranking on the road Wednesday as the boys start off with a tough No. 3-seeded Cactus Shadows program that bested their future opponent 8-1 in the regular season while rolling to a 13-1 record. Their meeting is set for 3 p.m.
And No. 9-seeded Northland Prep begins its D-III state tourney title quest with an away match against No. 8-seeded Gilbert Classical at 3 p.m. at Gilbert High School.
BASIS FLAGSTAFF GIRLS
The Yeti girls, led by a group of returning seniors and a stellar freshman at the No. 1 position, are looking to a take a bounce-back season and turn it into a deep run for a title.
Last season, its first in the AIA, Basis Flagstaff ended with a 3-7 record and a ranking of No. 35. With the four upperclassmen bookended by freshmen, the Yeti went 8-1 this year for the fifth seed.
Freshman Aeliana Ricci posted a 9-1 record at No. 1 singles while also going 9-1 in doubles, playing mostly with senior Samantha Crone as the top pairing. Meanwhile, seniors Crone, the No. 2 singles player, and No. 3 Lili Derby-Lawson have posted strong records in their respective flights to hold down the top half of the lineup.
The only team to hand Basis a loss this season was Northland Prep.
NORTHLAND PREP GIRLS
After an appearance in the quarterfinals last season, the Spartans are looking to make more noise this time around with a better seeding.
Northland Prep went 11-2 overall and wrapped up the regular-season slate on a seven-match win streak that included a redemption victory over Basis Flagstaff. Last year, the Spartans went into the state tourney as the nine seed, and fell 5-0 in the quarters to the No. 1 team.
Four seniors have helped Northland Prep power its way through the regular season in Bri Biddle, Kate Bailey, Lin Taylor and Karrie Lundstrom. Biddle and Bailey have been a force at the No. 1 doubles slot, compiling a 13-0 record, while each dropped just two matches at their singles flights.
Meanwhile, freshman Madison Parker has been helping the middle of the order at No. 4 singles, where she went 9-0 while going 3-1 at No. 5.
The Panthers' progression continues and they hope it leads to more postseason success.
Last year as the No. 14 seed, Coconino suffered a quick exit from the D-II state tourney as No. 3 Thunderbird came away with a 5-0 rout. In 2018, the Panthers went 11-4 and kept a push of winning seasons alive that started in 2017.
The Panthers posted an identical record as a year ago while getting to the postseason, but cracked the top 10 as the 10 seed. They have been preparing for a Nogales team that went 11-2 and hasn't dropped a match since March 7 -- a streak of nine straight wins that includes seven 9-0 victories.
Panthers No. 1 Emma Walker and No. 2 Olivia Larson have been solid at their flights, with the former posting an 11-4 singles record and the latter a 12-3 mark. Together at No. 1 doubles, they went 10-5.
Coconino has had plenty of tune-ups down the stretch of its regular season, taking on teams such as No. 1 Notre Dame Prep, No. 19 Bradshaw Mountain and No. 6 D-III Northland Prep. The Panthers beat Bradshaw out of those matchups.
NORTHLAND PREP BOYS
The 11-1 Spartans have rolled through the season, going a perfect 10-0 in D-III, Section 6.
The Spartans hope to keep it rolling with a first-round playoff match with Gilbert Classical on the road in the Valley. Gilbert Classical is 10-2 overall and 6-2 in Section 4 this season.
Between Fred Gooding and Drew Parker in the No. 1 doubles spot, the Spartans have consistently gotten matches started off with a win as the two have gone 10-0 as a pairing this season.
Last season the Spartans, as the No. 7 seed, fell to eventual champion and No. 3 seed Pusch Ridge in the semifinals 5-2.
The Spartans have won each of their past six matches, with only one being close in a 5-4 win over No. 15 Anthem Prep.
Led by a star freshmen No. 1 in singles, the Eagles are in for a tough matchup with one of the division's top teams.
Cactus Shadows, 13-1 on the season, has only fallen to powerhouse No. 2 Notre Dame. Cactus Shadows already beat the Eagles 8-1 earlier in the season.
Flagstaff's No. 5 Moez Boussarsar got the lone win of the afternoon for Flagstaff, beating Jack Stevens 3-6, 6-3, 10-7 in a long three-set battle.
Eagles No. 1 Layton Hagerman fell 6-3, 6-2, in just one of two losses for the star freshman in the No. 1 spot. For the year Hagerman is 11-2 in singles and 8-4 in doubles.