The Maricopa High School tennis teams began their seasons Thursday at home against Desert Ridge.
Both the girls’ and boys’ teams changed divisions this year, a factor that could mean a much easier season compared to last year, according to girls varsity head coach Heather Abel.
“Last season we had the toughest schedule I’ve ever had as a coach, playing some of the top teams in our section, and really some of the top teams in the state,” Abel said. “So, I’m looking forward to this season, playing some teams that we can compete with.”
All six spots on the girls’ varsity team will be filled with returning players this year. Among those returning are Abel’s daughter, senior Bailey Able, in the No. 1 spot, and sophomore Blesha Romo in the No. 2 spot.
Coach Able believes the team developed a lot last season, something she hopes will reflect in this season’s play.
“I think with all of them, their confidence has grown. But I’m not sure if playing those [harder] teams helps or hurts that.”
For boys’ tennis, the opposite is true when considering their new division, head coach Paula Pavlosky said. Despite the team finishing with a 9-6 record in 2016 and most of those players returning, she thinks this year will be more difficult than the previous not just in terms of their competitiveness, but in terms of distance and frequency as well.
“We do have a few matches that are far away,” Pavlosky said. “We have some in Cibola, which is near Yuma, and we have them back to back so we have three matches in a row in one week.”
Returning to the court this year for the Rams boys’ team in the No. 1 spot is senior Matthew Dinh. Pavlosky has tremendous confidence in Dinh, calling him “the best out there.” However, she knows the dedication of her other athletes is equally considerable.
“They are strong and I know they go out there with all their hearts and play to win,” she said.
The girls and boys schedules are the same but complementary, meaning when the girls play one school at home, the boys will play the same school on the road.
MHS Boys’ Tennis Schedule
Feb. 23 Desert Ridge 3:30 Away
Feb. 28 Casteel 3:30 Home
March 1 Combs 3:30 Away
March 9 Higley 3:30 Home
March 21 Casa Grande 3:30 Away
March 23 Williams Field 3:30 Home
March 28 Cibola 3:30 Away
March 29 Tolleson 3:30 Away
March 30 San Luis 3:30 Home
April 4 Millennium 3:30 Home
April 5 La Joya 3:30 Home
April 11 Westview 3:30 Away
April 13 Kofa 3:30 Home
MHS Girls’ Tennis Schedule
Feb. 23 Desert Ridge 3:30 Home
Feb. 28 Casteel 3:30 Away
March 1 Combs 3:30 Home
March 9 Higley 3:30 Away
March 21 Casa Grande 3:30 Home
March 23 Williams Field 3:30 Away
March 28 Cibola 3:30 Home
March 29 Tolleson 3:30 Home
March 30 San Luis 3:30 Away
April 4 Millennium 3:30 Away
April 5 La Joya 3:30 Away
April 11 Westview 3:30 Home
April 13 Kofa 3:30 Away