Editor’s note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports. Today’s list: Tucson’s top girls high school tennis players.
Meghann Shaughnessy, the daughter of a Tucson financial advisor, grew up in Tucson and moved to Scottsdale to further her blossoming tennis career.
By 2001, Shaughnessy rose to No. 11 in the women’s world tennis rankings, a regular in Grand Slam events from Wimbledon to the U.S. Open. But she didn’t play high school tennis in Tucson.
That’s how it works if you are a potential world-class tennis player; you move on and move up. The history of Tucson’s top female tennis players reflects Shaughnessy’s path.
In 1998, Sara Robbins won the state singles championship as a sophomore at Santa Rita High School. Robbins was undefeated in singles and doubles and rose to No. 1 in the USTA Southwest rankings, the winner of a USTA national doubles championship for 16U in St. Louis.
Robbins then left high school tennis to work against a higher level of competition. Ultimately, she earned a scholarship to Miami and was a four-year letter winner.
A decade earlier, Canyon del Oro junior Banni Redhair, daughter of former UA football standout Jack Redhair, won the 1987 state singles championship. (Banni was favored to win the ’86 title but an ankle injury prevented her from participating in the finals). She then skipped her senior year of eligibility to train against better competition.
Redhair became a four-year letterwinner at Arizona, one of the top players in school history.
And this year, Tucsonan Maddie Pothoff, who did not participate in any high school tennis in Tucson, became a first-team All-American at Alabama, finishing No. 2 in the NCAA doubles championships. Pothoff played a national UTSA schedule during her teenage years before enrolling at Alabama.
It doesn’t mean the list of Tucson’s 10 leading women’s tennis players is any less impressive. To make this list, you had to be, at least, a state champion.