|Written by Brian Bergner|
|Friday, 02 March 2012 00:00|
There’s no telling what’s in store for the 2012 version of the Marauders tennis team, but the coaches believe this team will compete at a high level this season.
“Our top five are pretty solid. We should have a decent team, but until we see what the competition is like it’s hard to say how we’ll do with the new division,” said Mingus Union High School head boys coach Jeff Knight.
Two summers ago, the Arizona Interscholastic Association realigned team and individual sports, putting Mingus in Division III for tennis.
Last season, the boys lost in the second round of the 4A-II conference state tournament to No. 1-ranked Liberty High School, 5-2.
This year, Mingus will play within the Division III format, and with so many teams within the division, it’s hard to tell how good the Marauders can be.
Top returners for the boys include No. 1 player Andrew Hickey, who is a senior this season. Returning sophomore Talon Walz comes back after a stellar freshman season in 2011 and should be the No. 2 player for the Marauders this spring.
Austin Strobel returns for his senior year and should be the No. 3 player for Mingus while senior Scott King returns to be the No. 4 player.
The biggest questions remain at the No. 5 and No. 6 slots for the Marauders. Senior Jonathan Witt is recovering from a knee injury and isn’t expected back until April.
“Jonathan [Witt] was our No. 2 last season, so to lose him is tough. But once we get him back, this team will be even stronger,” Knight said.
Top newcomers fighting for the last two starting lineup spots include sophomores Gary Baker and Tanner Caron. Both are expected to be the early favorites at No. 5 and 6.
Other newcomers include juniors Canaan Doering, Gilbert Quidera and Taylor Zale.
“I think once Witt is back we can make a serious run at state,” Knight said.
Mingus opens the season Thursday, March 1, when it plays host to Orme High School. Official start time is set for 3:30 p.m.
For the girls, the Marauders lost four seniors to graduation in 2011 including No. 1 player Mikayla Jaraczewski.
“I don’t know how things are going to go this year. These girls want to get better. They’ve been great: They listen to everything I have to say, and they try hard. It’s going to be a good group,” Mingus girls Head Coach Andrea Meyer said.
Top returners for the Marauders include senior Sheila Brown and sophomore standout Bethany Hickey.
Brown is the No. 1 player right now for Mingus, but Hickey has improved and was one of the best freshmen in Arizona high school tennis in 2011. As a sophomore, Hickey should start to come into her own, Meyer said.
At No. 3, senior Geni Alagna is a newcomer to the Marauders varsity squad while sophomore Courtney Warner sits at No. 4.
“I’m so surprised with Warner. She is striking the ball so well and looks good,” Meyer said.
Senior Maddi Spude should fit nicely as a newcomer at No. 5 and sophomore Lauren Nevitt wraps up the top six.
Other newcomers include juniors Corrin Davis and Jordan Sealf while freshman Farron Shanahan is already making a name for herself in Marauders camp.
The girls were originally scheduled to play Orme on Thursday, but the Orme girls canceled their season, making the Friday, March 9, matchup against Bradshaw Mountain High School the season opener for the Marauders.
Official start time at Bradshaw Mountain is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
Verde Valley Weather
32°F / 44°F
21°F / 38°F
20°F / 37°F