GLENDALE - After Ironwood Ridge's boys tennis team lost to Catalina Foothills 6-3 to start the season, Nighthawks coach Ryan Bais thought changing up his doubles lineup would lead to a win over the Falcons.
He was right.
Third-seeded Ironwood Ridge beat No. 2 Foothills for the first time this season 5-4 in Friday's Division II state semifinals at Paseo Racquet Center.
"You want to beat the best to get there, and historically Catalina Foothills is one of the best programs in the state so it feels good to beat them and get to the finals again," Bais said.
The win gave the Nighthawks a chance to sweep both team titles for the second consecutive year. The I-Ridge girls also squeezed out a 5-4 win over top-seeded Scottsdale Notre Dame less than an hour before the boys won.
The boys will face top-seeded Notre Dame in the championship match today, and the fifth-seeded girls will play No. 3 Catalina Foothills in a rematch of last year's state final. Both matches are at 2 p.m. at Paseo Racquet Center.
I-Ridge's boys went down to the wire and secured the win when Alex Bose and Ryan Knox came out on top 11-10 (6) in a winner-take-all doubles match to break an overall 4-4 tie.
"We started off really strong and got a little overconfident in the middle of it, but we were able to pull it out," said Bose, who lost to Foothills' Mike Lee 6-7, 1-6 in singles.
In the team's previous two meetings with Foothills, Bose was partnered with Adam Knox, and Ryan Knox was paired with Cody Petford. But Bais thought making a switch would give the Nighthawks a better chance to win.
"We saved it for state because we knew we were going to see them again," Bais said. "We kind of took a loss at the end of the season and hid our secret for doubles. Then we popped it out here at state, and it worked."
Petford and Adam Knox won their doubles match 10-7 to tie the overall score 4-4. Both, along with Ryan Knox, won their singles sets to tie the match at 3 heading into doubles.
The I-Ridge girls also went down to the final doubles match but didn't have as close a match. Alli Knox and Sara Brown won 10-5 not too long after Marissa Baca and Kelsey Brown tied the match 4-4 with a 10-3 win.
"We knew when they won that we had it, but we just couldn't let it get to that point where it was scary," Sara Brown said. "We didn't want to let them come back at all. That was our main goal, to finish it out and not let it linger on."
The Foothills girls had the easiest day of the three, winning 5-0 to advance to the state finals for the fourth straight year. Freshman Katie Watson led the way with a 6-0, 6-0 win for the Falcons, who have won 12 titles in the last 14 years.
"It would be nice to get back the championship," Foothills coach Kristie Stevens said. "The girls are eager to get that win back after last year's loss and after splitting with them this year."
• No. 3 Pusch Ridge Christian 5, No. 2 Goodyear Estrella Foothills 2: In Glendale, the Lions boys defeated the Wolves to earn a trip to the state finals for the third consecutive season.
After losing the first set 6-4, Pusch Ridge's No. 3 singles player Michael Houser was down 5-3 in the second set. Houser won four straight games to win 7-5, then won the third set 6-1 to put the Lions up 4-2 heading into doubles play.
Pusch Ridge will play No. 5 Fountain Hills for the title at 5 p.m. today at Paseo Racquet Center.
• No. 1 Miami 5, No. 5 Desert Christian 4: In Glendale, The Eagles girls split singles play 3-3, but lost two of three doubles matches in the state semifinals to fall to Miami.