4/16/2013 2:07:00 PM Hard work paying off for boys tennis, wins first match of season
against Prescott and takes 3rd at Northern Arizona Championships
From left to right: Joseph Sandoval, Talon Walz, Logan Connella and Turner Walz stand with their singles medals after the Northern Arizona Championships. Photo courtesy of Mingus Union boys tennis team
Senior Gilbert Quidera returns the volley during his match. Gilbert won 6–3. 6–1. VVN/Travis Guy
Some say one is the loneliest number, but in the case of the Mingus Union boys tennis program, one is the sign of a bright future.
"It does feel good. It was the three best days of the season in tennis, going from the Prescott match through the Northern Arizona Championships," said head coach Tim Kessel.
All season, the boys team has been fighting to get their first win, falling just short time and time again. Finally, when visiting Prescott High School on April 11, they claimed a 5-4 win, their first team win of the season.
The Marauders won their doubles matches and picked up singles wins from Talon Walz and Logan Connella.
"[It] is really significant since it means that the athletes are starting to figure to strategy and teamwork," Kessel said. "It is great to get a win, especially against a strong opponent a division above us. It is especially sweet since every player had a hand in the win."
Following the victory, the boys travelled to Yavapai College for the Northern Arizona Championships, carrying their newfound momentum with them to a No.3 finish.
The tournament was set up so each player competed against players that played at the same level they did, so court No. 1 only competed against other No. 1's.
"Most impressive is Talon, who's finding a way to win. It's hard to stay up all the time, throughout a whole season and he has," Kessel said. "He's played well against the top opponents. When his game hasn't been totally on, and truth be told, in the northern Arizona tournament, his serve wasn't on. But he found a way to fight around that to win. [He had] another great championship match against the Sedona boy, who's a great player. Honestly, it was the kind of three-days in a row that makes a season."
Talon, unbeaten in singles play this season, reaffirmed his position as the best No. 1 player in Northern Arizona by besting all of his competitors, despite not playing his best tennis of the season.
"It's pretty cool," Talon said. "It was definitely the hardest match (the championship match) and I went into a tiebreaker, 11-9, it was crazy."
Turner Walz, Talon's younger brother, who has competed at court four all season, won his flight as well as fellow freshman Joseph Sandoval, who made a comeback in his final match to win the No. 5 flight.
"I saw some play from boys I hadn't seen before. The most notable change was Turner Walz. [He] played a really tough kid from Prescott in the championship match to win his flight," Kessel said. "He won the tournament at No. 4, which for a freshman is pretty amazing."
Joseph also took second place in doubles competition with his partner Logan. Talon and partner Tanner Caron claimed a third place finish. Senior Gilbert Quidera and Tanner, while not placing at the event, did pick up singles wins to help the boys finish in third.
The boys returned home to host Sedona Red Rock on April 15, but were unable to secure their second team victory of the season, losing to the Scorpions 5-4.
"I think, again, that goes back to youth. We had the great doubles flight in Prescott, on their home courts, and then here we had a chance to win two doubles matches here," Kessel said. "We were up in two double matches and didn't do it. Its inexperience and its frustrating, but that is what a young team does. You don't get the high level consistency when you have such a young team, and it showed today. It brings us back to the reality of the situation, that it's an extremely young team that will get nothing but better."
Mingus was swept in double play with match scores of 9-7, 8-5 and 8-2. In two of the matches, the boys were leading, but were unable to hold onto the lead.
When the teams began the singles matches, Talon, Gilbert, Joseph and Logan all picked up wins, but Turner lost his match 6-3 and 6-0 as well as Tanner Caron.
Gilbert was able to carry his momentum from singles play at the weekend tournament into his match against the Scorpions. After starting slow in his first set of the match, he was able to battle back and claim it 6-3, following that with a 6-1 win to clinch his first non-tournament singles match win.
"[Not winning a match] was just un-motivating and I didn't really know what to do," Gilbert said. "I was stuck and it brought me down a lot, but going to this tournament and picking up some wins boosted my moral and I'm going to thrive off that."
Talon handedly won his match 6-2, 6-0. With one match before the state tournament, the junior is one step away from achieving his goal for the season, go unbeaten at No. 1 during regular season.
Logan added a third win to his regular-season streak with hi 6-4, 6-2 win on court-6. His doubles partner, Joseph, picked up a overtime win to show his progress over the course of the season, wining the tiebreaker set 10-7.
"We're getting a bunch of nice singles win. We won the Prescott match with doubles and we're staying in this match with singles," Kessel said. "Tennis is a funny sport. Its all about match-ups, more than virtually any other sport, its all about match-ups."