Susanna Studwell was one of four girls tennis players from Southern Arizona to make it to the Division II singles state quarterfinals last year.
The Sabino junior was the only unseeded player to advance to the Elite Eight.
Now as a senior, Studwell is confident she can get back. This time, she's hoping to be seeded.
"I really hope to do as well, if not better than I did last year," Studwell said. "I just hope I play as well as I've played during the season. Hopefully I'll even improve."
The third-year No. 1 player for the Sabercats makes a strong case to be in the top eight of Division II and possibly earn a first-round bye when the individual state tournament opens two weeks from today.
Studwell is 7-2 this season, her only two losses coming against Catalina Foothills senior Rachana Bhat, one of the top players in the state. Studwell and 10th-year Sabino coach George Bubany consider those moral victories - especially the first loss, when Studwell played around her forehand ground stroke to stay close in a 4-6, 3-6 loss to Bhat.
"She's awesome at that, and it's gotten better," Bubany said. "She can place it, she can put it almost anywhere, so if you're playing her and you hit a fairly easy shot to her forehand you might as well kiss it goodbye."
Studwell will continue playing tennis next year at Connecticut College, a Division III school, through an academic scholarship.
Her biggest win this year came against Salpointe Catholic's Nicole Whinery 6-1, 6-4. Whinery was playing up from the No. 2 spot for that match, which marked the first time Studwell beat an opponent from Salpointe.
After advancing through the first two rounds at state last year, Studwell knocked off Scottsdale Notre Dame's Caroline Eversman in three sets. Eversman was seeded fifth in the field of 58 players.
Studwell lost in the next round to Phoenix Goldwater's Jordan Denesik, but getting to that point proved to herself that she can compete with the best.
"It definitely helped me with confidence in playing a lot of the better players," Studwell said.
"I knew that I had a good chance of beating them now."
I-Ridge looking for new boys hoops coach
Brian Peabody's decision to coach the Pima College men's basketball team left another big high school vacancy in Southern Arizona.
Ironwood Ridge joins Tucson and Pueblo in the search for a new boys coach.
Peabody had coached the Nighthawks since 2007 and led them to the 5A-II state title game his first two seasons, winning it in his first season.
I-Ridge athletic director Phil Tilicki said it's bittersweet to see a coach like Peabody move on but hopes to have the spot filled by the summer.
"Our program will go on," Tilicki said. "We have great kids, and we'll find another great coach for them."
Sabercats football duo adds to offers
Sabino junior offensive lineman Andrew Mike recently received a scholarship offer from Oregon State, his 10th. Teammate and tight end Matt Bushman got an offer from Duke, his sixth, on Wednesday.
Both also have offers from Arizona, BYU, San Diego State and Utah. They're ranked in the top 20 at their positions by Scout.com.
Sabino coach Jay Campos said he expects Bushman to make his decision before football season starts. Mike could wait longer, he said.
Buena's Malcolm staying in Colorado
Devonte Malcolm, Sierra Vista Buena's No. 2 all-time leading scorer, has chosen to attend Colorado State University-Pueblo, a Division II school in Pueblo, Colo.
Malcolm, a 6-foot-1-inch guard, has played at Trinidad State JC, in Trinidad, Colo., the last two years.
He averaged 19.4 points per game as a sophomore.
Contact reporter Daniel Gaona at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-7761. On Twitter @DanielGaona13