HS state tennis: Catalina Foothills captures girls, boys crowns

2014-05-11T00:00:00Z 2014-05-11T01:55:27Z HS state tennis: Catalina Foothills captures girls, boys crownsBy Chuck Constantino Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

GLENDALE — The Catalina Foothills girls and boys tennis teams capped off unbeaten seasons by winning Division II state titles Saturday at Paseo Racquet Center.

The girls team pulled off a dramatic finish that even Disney couldn’t script, a 5-4 victory over No. 1 Scottsdale Notre Dame to repeat as state champions — Foothills’ 13th team title in 15 years.

The Falcons’ boys squad defeated Salpointe Catholic 5-3, marking the second time the Falcons beat the Lancers this season.

In the final doubles match, the No. 2 Foothills girls team found itself trailing 6-3, a spot it hasn’t been in all season. The most the Falcons had surrendered was two games in a match.

But senior Noelle Karp and junior Kirtana Bhat rallied to edge Notre Dame twins Natalia and Alexia Lombardi 11-10 to clinch the team title.

“This match was one of the most memorable I’ve been apart of,” an emotional Falcons coach Kristie Stevens said. “We definitely had not been challenged this season like we were today.”

Bhat and Karp fought off five match points.

“We were both nervous,” Karp said. “But we knew we had to get those points for our teammates.”

Said Stevens: “That’s incredible, for them to sustain that much pressure and come out on top.”

In the boys match, Foothills jumped out to a 4-1 lead over Salpointe after No. 5 junior Dalton Reisig and No. 4 sophomore John Miller won singles matches in straight sets. Miller stayed unbeaten in singles play for two years.

Foothills boys coach David King enjoyed the journey to the state title.

“Totally a team win today,” King said. “So many different players got us here today and so many different guys win for us. The undefeated season is nice, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t win the championship.

“It’s great to win with these guys. There’s no better group in the state.”

Salpointe sophomore Yash Parikh and junior Jack George won singles matches. Parikh defeated Foothills junior Bogdan Racolta 6-2, 6-4 and George beat senior Josh Mantell 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 6-3.

It was the second straight season the Lancers lost in the state final.

In the Division III state championship, top-seeded Thatcher beat Pusch Ridge Christian for the second time in three years. Thatcher won 5-1 and three matches went into tie-break sets.

“I was pleased with how they competed,” Pusch Ridge coach David Towne said. “[Thatcher] was just the better team today. We have a lot to be proud of.”

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