Desert Christian pair settles down in third set, advances to state quarterfinals

2014-04-27T00:00:00Z Desert Christian pair settles down in third set, advances to state quarterfinalsBy Al Bravo Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

GLENDALE — In addition to having to fight the blustery conditions and hard-hitting opponents, Desert Christian’s Jenna Cray and Harika Echuri were also dealing with what was going on between their ears.

“A lot of factors are getting into your head — between the crowd, the wind — but overall, we probably were really tense and couldn’t figure a way to relax ourselves,” Cray said after the pair’s two-hour-plus, three-set win on Saturday in the Division III state girls tennis tournament at Paseo Racquet Center. “I’m glad we kept that under control, at least outwardly, while the inner turmoil was going on.”

The third-seeded duo, co-valedictorians at Desert Christian, outlasted Page’s Lindsay Wood and Ailaina Herman 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2.

“In the second set, I got really excited. ‘Oh my gosh, we are going to win this,’ ” Echuri said. “Then I started missing my shots. But I learned that you just have to try and maintain that same composure throughout the whole match.”

Cray and Echuri led 4-1 and 5-2 in the second set, but let the advantage slip away due to unforced errors. They had their chances in the tiebreaker, but couldn’t convert. In the third set, they settled down enough to win the final three games and clinch the match.

The Eagles doubles team will face Emily Hayes and Kylie Crick of Miami in Thursday’s quarterfinals, also at the Glendale venue.

The seventh-seeded team of Alyssa Metcalf and Hanna Sawyer from St. Gregory had an easy time in their match.

The pair beat Alyx Ruiz and Brooklyn Armstrong of Benson 6-1, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals.

“The match was a lot of fun,” Sawyer said. “That’s the biggest thing that has gotten us going in this tournament — all of our matches have been a good time. As long as we keep playing well together, I think we will go pretty far.”

They now face the No. 2 team of Kendalle Finchum and Kourtnee Finchum of Buckeye.

Unseeded Hannah Ingerson and Kelsey Ingerson of Tanque Verde advanced with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Phoenix Bourgade Catholic’s Shirley Hatcher and Julie Mattes. They meet the top-seeded team of Ashley Madrid and Celine Marin of Miami, who have lost only four games in two matches so far.

In singles, Desert Christian’s Courtenay Gleason, the No. 6 seed, was the lone Tucson-area player to advance on Saturday, beating Maira Nunez of Tombstone 6-2, 6-2. Gleason finished third a year ago.

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