Ironwood Ridge boys and girls tennis teams keep repeat state championship bid alive

Ironwood Ridge boys and girls tennis teams keep repeat state championship bid alive

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Ironwood Ridge boys and girls tennis teams keep repeat state championship bid alive

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Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge’s boys and girls tennis teams are within a victory Saturday of repeating as Division II state champions, but it didn’t come without a fight in Friday’s semifinals at Glendale’s Paseo Racquet Center.

The Ironwood Ridge girls eliminated Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep 5-3 to reach Saturday’s 2 p.m. final against Tucson Catalina Foothills, but Ironwood Ridge’s boys weren’t hadn’t cemented into their 2 p.m. title match against Notre Dame until Alex Bose and Ryan Knox outlasted Tucson Catalina Foothills’ Quinn Gardner and Andrew Good, 8-6 in a tiebreaker, and won 5-4.

Ironwood Ridge boys coach Ryan Bais warned it’ll be tough to replicate his 13th-year school’s titles of 2008, ’09 and ’12, but likes his players’ chances, especially once Cody Petford and Ryan Knox’ eked out three-set wins in singles.

“It’s hard to get (to the final) and even harder to win there,” Bais said. “We haven’t gotten rattled or really tense at any point and that’s helped.”

Notre Dame’s boys are eager to match their championship of 2008, as evidenced by blanking Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain 5-0. Saints Adrian Cordova and Luke Carstens led the way against Bradshaw Mountain by winning at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, 6-1, 6-0, and 6-0, 6-0.

Catalina Foothills’ girls, champions 11 of the past 13 years, enter Saturday’s final hungry to avenge last season’s championship loss to Ironwood Ridge. It will on sisters Rachana Bhat and Kirtana Bhat, whose 6-1, 6-0 and 6-1, 6-1 singles victories keyed its 5-0 blanking of Prescott in the semis.

Ironwood Ridge girls coach William Little likes his players’ chances, especially after winning 13 straight matches following a season-opening loss to Catalina Foothills.

“We’ve showed we’re a powerful team and one that contend,” he said of elbowing in with Catalina Foothills. “Everybody seems to be peaking at the right time with the confidence that goes with that.”

In Division III, the Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian and Fountain Hills boys beat Estrella Foothills and defending champion Thatcher, 5-2 and 5-4, respectively, to reach Saturday’s 5 p.m. final. Phoenix County Day and Miami girls advanced past Stafford and Desert Christian, 5-4 and 5-4, respectively, to reach their 5 p.m. final.

Pusch Ridge’s No. 3 singles player, Michael Houser, who won his semifinal 5-7, 7-5, 6-1, said his team has the focus to match its 2011 title and avenge last year’s loss to Thatcher.

“We really want to redeem ourselves,” he said.

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