By Raymundo Frasquillo
Long after the security and comfort of their high school days have ended, they will remember the life lessons introduced through their athletic participation and hopefully be part of what they leave with. The question they will encounter as they enter the work force is “What experience do you have?”
Head coach Chris Cook told the Eagles, “I don’t care if you win or lose. I want you to work hard and do your best every time you set foot on the court. Now go out and have fun.”
The predominantly youthful Eagles boys tennis team took heed, winning the seven-team 2017 Eagles Invitational Tournament on March 25 and finished out the month ranked atop the state’s 50 Division III teams.
During the last week of March, the Eagles shutout the Duncan Wildkats in Thatcher on the 28th and the Yellow Jackets in Tombstone on the 29th and topped the Pima Roughriders 8-1 in Thatcher on the 30th.
The Eagles (10-0 power ranking record, 18.6418 rating) complete their regular season by visiting Morenci April 6 and Willcox April 11 and hosting Safford April 18.
The other Division III – Section II members include Safford (8-2 power record, 11.2102 rating for No. 7), Morenci (6-3, 6.2079 for No. 10), Pima (4-5, 2.0592 for No. 18), Benson (5-4, 0.9024 for No. 21), Duncan (2-7, minus 6.4509 for No. 34), and Willcox (1-9, minus 8.4826).
Tombstone (6-3, 0.7221 for No. 23) is in Section III of the division.
The Thatcher girls also ended March as the state’s top rated Division III team with a 10-0 power ranking record and an 18.2782 rating. The other Section II members are Benson (8-1, 12.3222 for No. 4), Safford (8-2, 10.0988 for No. 6), Miami (6-2, 5.9774 for No. 12), Pima (4-5, 2.4425 for No. 17), Morenci (3-6, minus 1.0117 for No. 24), Willcox (2-8, minus 4.6585 for No. 33), and Duncan (1-8, minus 6.9496).
Thatcher Invitational (boys)
Cook changed the tourney format, from a double-elimination meet for singles and doubles entrants, to a round robin format where everyone plays as many matches as teams as entered. In this case, everyone would be getting six matches, or experience they may not get in the other format. The two-day meet utilized courts on three sites, at Thatcher and Safford high schools plus those at Eastern Arizona College.
Each team had four entrants, two singles and two doubles, but was not limited to the same members in each pairing for the meet. Coaches could change the order, going from singles to doubles, and in case of a tie, the tie-breakers were players of their choice.
Thatcher posted a 6-0 record in its tourney, with wins of 4-0 over both Morenci and Pima, 3-1 over both Benson and Douglas and 3-2 over both Miami and Safford.
“Our seniors pulled through for us,” Cook said, noting Dallin Cook and Logan McMaster won tie-breakers over Miami and Safford following the 2-2 deadlock against both teams.
The rest of the Eagles included sophomore Rulan White plus freshmen Tyler Bierman, Talen Brown, Aaron Hatch, Amon Hatch, Grant Richardson and Brandon Udall.
Second-place Douglas (5-1) blanked Benson, Morenci, and Pima 4-0 plus defeated Miami in a tie-breaker for a 3-2 win, and Safford (score unavailable); third place Miami (4-2) shutout Benson, Morenci, Pima, and Safford 4-0; fourth place Safford (3-3) blanked Benson, Morenci, and Pima 4-0; fifth place Morenci (2-4) topped Pima 2-1 and won a tie-breaker over Benson; sixth place Benson (1-5) shutout Pima 3-0; and seventh place Pima finished 0-6.
Thatcher Invitational (girls)
Douglas won the girl’s meet with a 5-1 record, defeating Benson, Miami, Morenci, and Pima 4-0 plus winning a tie-breaker with Thatcher after a 2-2 deadlock. The Bulldogs’ lone loss was to Safford (score unavailable).
The Gabriella Romero-coached Bulldogs included Marilyn Aceves, Iridian Aguirre, Ana Barrios, Lindsey Benson, Kaycie Cormier, Kiara Hernandez, and Luisa Martinez. Romero was assistanted by Kim Cormier, Kristi Cormier and Paula Shelton.
Second place Benson (5-1) shutout Morenci 4-0, defeated Miami, Safford, and Thatcher 3-1 plus Pima 2-1; third place Safford (4-2) shutout both Morenci and Pima 4-0, won the tie-breaker with Thatcher, and topped Douglas (score unavailable).
Fourth-place Thatcher (3-3) blanked both Morenci and Pima 4-0 plus defeated Miami 3-1; fifth place Miami (3-3) shutout both Morenci and Pima 4-0 plus downed Safford 3-1; sixth place Morenci (1-5) defeated Pima 2-1; and seventh place Pima went 0-6.