Even after a bus ride back to Nogales, coach Rudy Molera said the gravity of his boys’ 5-3 victory against defending state champion Ironwood Ridge had yet to sink in.
“I’m real proud of my kids,” Molera said. “They’ve really peaked at the right time.”
No. 4 I-Ridge (13-3) hasn’t inspired the same sort of fear as last year after losing four key players, but No. 5 Nogales fell 8-1 to the Nighthawks in late March.
Yet, with Alexis Ton back in the Apaches’ lineup Tuesday after missing the first meeting, Nogales (12-3) was able to flip the script and advance to the Division II state semifinals.
His brother, Francisco Ton, came away with the biggest victory of the afternoon, beating I-Ridge’s top player, Ryan Knox, 7-5 in both sets.
“It was a good battle both ways,” Molera said.
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Apaches, though, as they move from defending champs to title favorites in No. 1 Catalina Foothills, which also beat them 8-1 early in the season. The semifinal match starts at 9 a.m. Friday at Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.
No. 2 Salpointe Catholic 5, No. 7 Phoenix Thunderbird 0: At Tucson Racquet Club, the Lancers’ top two of Yash Parikh and Jack Amos helped their team roll to another victory. Parikh and Amos both won their singles matches comfortably and then beat the pair of Derek James and Scott Rowe 10-1 in doubles to clinch the match for Salpointe (15-2). With the two wins Tuesday, Parikh has now beaten James three times in the past four days after edging him in the state singles championship.
No. 1 Catalina Foothills 5, No. 8 Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep 0: At Foothills, the Falcons were tested early but managed to hold on. Nate Rasmussen and Quinn Gardner, who won the doubles state title over the weekend, were both pushed to final sets on Tuesday against the same pair they beat for the championship. Both Rasmussen and Gardner pulled out their individual matches Tuesday, and the Falcons (16-0) were able to win again and move within one win of the state finals Sophomore John Miller kept his perfect record in team play intact with an easy straight-set victory.
No. 2 Pusch Ridge Christian 5, No. 7 Chandler Prep 0: At Hilton El Conquistador, the defending state champions easily topped Chandler Prep to advance to the semifinals for the fourth straight year. All but Tim Pooley won in straight sets for Pusch Ridge on Tuesday afternoon, and the Lions’ No. 6 man still rallied to win the decisive match.
Pusch Ridge (16-0) will face No. 3 Goodyear Estrella Foothills on Friday at 2 p.m. at the Paseo Racquet Center after the Wolves edged No. 6 Benson 5-3.
Though Pusch Ridge is the higher seed, the Estrella Foothills’ top two will provide troubles for the Lions, coach David Towne said. In particular, the Wolves No. 1, Max Schell, will be a tough match for Jarod Bristol, as the freshman fell to the three-time singles state champion Saturday in the individual tournament semifinal.