GLENDALE - Up a set and just two games from advancing to the state semifinals, it looked like No. 5 seed Richard Foitik was going to get some revenge on fourth-seeded David Strong of St. Gregory.
"I was feeling good and I started slacking off, just letting it go, my footwork went down the drain," Foitik said after losing to Strong, again, in the state Division III boys tennis singles quarterfinals Friday night at Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale.
A year ago, Strong swept Foitik 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Max Schell of Goodyear Estrella Foothills in the semifinals.
The Foitik-Strong rivalry renewed on Friday seemed like a Foitik's night. He won the first set 6-2 and led 4-1 and 5-3 in the second set with Strong struggling with his serve and more.
"Just my determination, I didn't want to give it to him too easy," said Strong, who won 2-6, 7-5, 6-1. "So I decided to change my game strategy, I started playing different shots, what worked I started hitting, what didn't work I avoided. That was mainly it."
The No. 4 seed stormed back to win four straight games, the set point coming on a double fault by Foitik. Strong didn't look back, allowing Foitik the second game of the final set, then winning five straight. In the final game, all of Strong's points came on Foitik unforced errors.
"He had the momentum going into the third set," Foitik said. "So it was hard to turn that around."
Foitik said he began to cramp in the late going.
"Unforced errors just killed me in the third set," he said.
Strong gets another shot at Schell in today's semifinals at 11:30 a.m. The winner advances to the state final at 2:30 p.m. at the Paseo center.
"He wanted it more than last year," Strong said of Foitik. "He's a senior, he played well. It was a lot tougher than last year, for sure."
The other Southern Arizona representative in the final eight of the Division III boys singles bracket, No. 6 seed Evan Gazic of Pusch Ridge, lost to third-seed Matt Fisher 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 on Friday night.
In Division III doubles, unseeded Davis Towne and Camron Vick of Pusch Ridge advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 5 seed Andrew Guilliams and Steven Barrera of Benson. Towne and Vick will meet top-seeded Jacob Meyer and Troy Parsons of Phoenix Valley Lutheran in the semifinals today.
Joel Johnson and Michael Houser, the No. 6 seed, also from Pusch Ridge, were beaten in the quarterfinals by third-seeded Nathan McMaster and Reed Goodman of Thatcher, 6-2, 7-5.
• In Division II, No. 4 seed Nate Rassmussen advanced to a semifinal match against top seed Alex Bose of Ironwood Ridge, as the final four are all from Tucson.
Rasmussen beat fifth-seeded Francisco Ton of Nogales 6-1, 6-3.
"I'm playing really well right now," said Rasmussen. "Probably my best going into state and overall just playing well. I can't miss, I have to stay solid all around (today) and not let anyone get in my head while I am out there.
Bose swept unseeded Clint Smith of Gilbert Williams Field 6-0, 6-0.
Ryan Knox of Ironwood Ridge, the No. 6 seed, swept No. 3 Cassidy Reader of Gilbert Campo Verde, 6-2, 6-1, and No. 2 Mike Lee of Catalina Foothills quickly eliminated No. 7 Derek James of Phoenix Thunderbird 6-1, 6-0.
Knox and Lee meet in the other semifinal.
In Division II boys doubles, the top-seeded team of Cody Petford and Adam Knox of Ironwood Ridge easily beat No. 8 Max Miller and William Waidelich of Prescott Valley Bradshaw Mountain 6-1, 6-1. Petford and Adam Knox will meet the No. 4 team of Konrad Krolls and Mark Prygolki of Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep in the semifinals.
No. 3 seed Quinn Gardner and Andrew Good of Catalina Foothills also advanced on Friday, beating No. 6 seed Alexis Ton and Alan Soto-Hopkins of Nogales 6-2, 6-3. Gardner and Good face Notre Dame's Luke Carstens and Adrian Cordova, the No. 2 seed in the semifinals.
• In Division I, the Salpointe top-seeded doubles team of Andrew Dunn and Tyler Linscott advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over unseeded Ryan and Michael Headley of Phoenix Pinnacle. But the top-seeded Lancers' win was anything but easy.
"There is a lot of expectation that comes with it but you have to stay focused and can't let that stuff get into your head," Dunn said. "I got (my serve) broken and then broke my strings on a game point for them and switched rackets and got it back. (Then) I found my form so it was all good."
"They did play better," Linscott said. "But it feels good since we drove up from Tucson (on Friday). It's much easier now that we are staying here, I think we will do better (today)."
The other southern Arizona entry in Division I doubles, Salpointe's No. 6-seeded Brandon Gerber and Jack Amos took the No. 3 team from Chandler Hamilton, Sam Wang and Mac Howell, to a tiebreaker in the third set, before losing 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6). The Lancer team had a 6-5 lead in the tiebreak but lost three straight points after rallying in the third set to force the tiebreak.
In Division I singles, freshman Yash Parikh of Salpointe continued his run with a quarterfinal win on Friday over Nick Cunningham of Goodyear Millennium 6-2, 6-3. The No. 4 seed faces top-seeded Hudson Blake of Phoenix Brophy Prep, who won his quarterfinal match in two sets as well.
The lone Southern Arizona representative in Division I on Saturday will be Salpointe's Caroline Amos, the No. 1 seed who quickly dispatched unseeded Kristi Lee of Scottsdale Desert Mountain, 6-1, 6-2 on Friday.
"I don't think that was my best but it was good, she played really well," Amos said. "I don't think ahead, I try not to think ahead and try to take every match when you are there. Be in the present."
Amos meets No. 5 Madeline Cunningham in the semifinals at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. A win puts her in the state championship match at 2:30 p.m.
Amos was the only Tucson player to reach the final eight in singles while classmates Nicole Whinery and Maeve McGeorge played in doubles on Friday. But the fourth-seeded Lancers were upset by No. 5 Gabbi Chernak and Ally Breece of Scottsdale Chaparral 6-2, 6-3.
In Division II singles, two Southern Arizona players are in the final four.
Ironwood Ridge's Sara Brown, the No. 1 seed, easily beat Annie Weber of Cave Creek Cactus Shadows 6-0, 6-1, to advance. She will meet Natalia Lombardi of Notre Dame, who eliminated Susanna Studwell of Sabino, 6-2, 6-0.
The No. 3 seed, Cristina Oropeza of Nogales, beat No. 6 Kate Byrne of Phoenix Arcadia, 6-3, 6-3, to reach the semifinals. She will meet No. 2 Alexia Lombardi of Notre Dame, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over seventh-seeded Katie Watson of Catalina Foothills.
Rachana and Kirtana Bhat of Catalina Foothills, the No. 1 seed in Division II doubles, beat No. 8 Laine Sperbeck and Laike Reader of Campo Verde 6-0, 6-0. The Bhats will face No. 5 Delania Harris and Athena Bowman of Bradshaw Mountain, who eliminated fourth-seeded Janine and Jeunne Fernando of Sabino, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Ironwood Ridge's second-seeded team of Marissa Baca and Kelsey Brown blanked Lizette Lopez and Gaby Belisario of Nogales, the No. 7 seed, 6-0, 6-0. Baca and Brown will face No. 3 Caitlin Railson and Sarah Eversman of Notre Dame.
In Division III singles, No. 3 seed Courtenay Gleason of Desert Christian is the lone Tucson player in the final four. Gleason beat No. 6 Desiree Curiel of Miami 6-1, 6-3, to advance to the semifinals against Abbie Denney of Phoenix Northwest Christian.
In doubles, top-seeded Allie Scott and Gabrielle Courtney of Pusch Ridge beat No. 8 Tiana Roebuck and Jessica Wright of Thatcher 6-2, 6-1. The Pusch Ridge team faces Rene Reynolds and Megan Zimmerman of Safford, the No. 5 seed, in the semifinals.