With the threat of rain hanging over their heads, the Mingus Union boys' tennis team kicked off their 2014 season by hosting the Thunderbird High School Chiefs.
The match was also the Division-II, Section-3 debut for the Marauders, and it was a rough one. The Chiefs, a D-II, Section-4 team, introduced the Marauders to the new division by handing them a 6-3 loss.
In his quest to finish in the top of D-II, Talon Walz suffered an early hiccup when he was defeated in straight sets. The senior tallied four total points in his second consecutive defeat (the first coming at the 2013 state quarterfinals) with set scores of 6-1 and 6-3.
At the court next to him, Tanner Caron showed off his progression as a tennis player when he won his match 6-2 and 6-3. Rounding out the top-3 for Mingus, Gary Baker dropped his first high school tennis match since 2012 with set scores of 6-4 and 6-2.
On courts three to six, the Marauders went 1-3 with sophomore Logan Conella notching the lone win.
Playing on court five, Conella took the opening set 6-3. His opponent battled back to win the middle set 7-6 (9-7). Conella was able to rebound and win with his 10-8 sudden victory set.
On the courts bookending him (four and six) Turner Walz and Micah Nevarez were not as fortunate. Turner lost his opening set 6-1, was able to force a third set when he topped his opponent 6-3 in the second set, but lost his final set of the day 10-3. Nevarez, playing in his first official tennis match ever, dropped it 6-1 and 6-2.
Before the singles took the courts, the doubles had their moments as they debuted strong despite going 1-2 in doubles play. All three pairs were making their season debuts as graduation and the lure of other sports forced new head coach Tarrin Walz to adjust.
Caron and Baker, a pairing that Tarrin was excited about at the beginning of the season, forced a sudden victory set in their debut in doubles, but ultimately lost 9-8 (9-7). The senior pairing of Talon and Nevarez has Mingus' top player in Talon helping tennis rookie Nevarez come along. They lost their match 8-4.
The lone win in the doubles matches came from sophomores Turner and Conella. They took command of the match and easily defeated their opposition 8-2.
With the loss, the Marauders are 0-1 at the beginning of the season. They get a chance to come back from the loss when they travel to Kingman High School on March 4, for a D-II, S-3 match and follow that up two days later with a trip to Northland Preparatory Academy. The boys will not return to their home courts until March 18, when they host Sedona Red Rock in a rivalry match.