Ironwood Ridge's Katrina Domingo will be playing in the state tennis tournament Saturday. She will team with Marissa Baca in doubles. BENJIE SANDERS / ARIZONA DAILY STAR

Perry Touche will get in a car at some point today and head to Phoenix for the first round of the Division I state tennis tournament.

It could potentially be the first of six trips to the Valley in the next three weeks for the Salpointe Catholic girls coach.

"It's silliness," Touche said.

Thanks to the new postseason format by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the individual state tourney is now a 128-person bracket, rather than a 32-person draw.

Instead of crowning 12 individual state champions (six boys, six girls), the AIA will crown six total.

With the new format, the Star offers three tidbits about the state tournament.

1. There's no qualifying. Instead of qualifying for the state tourney through region championships, coaches were allowed to pick two singles players and two doubles teams to send to state.

Those are the guidelines for every team in the state, regardless of regular-season success.

"I think there's something to be said for qualifying for the state tournament," Catalina Foothills girls coach Kristie Stevens said. "It was a special accomplishment. To play a 128 (person) draw is a big drawback. There's no way around it.

"I think the state tournament needs to be a competitive venue for these athletes."

Stevens isn't alone in her view.

"It kind of waters the state tournament down," Ironwood Ridge boys coach Ryan Bais said. "It should be the highest level of tennis and it doesn't end up being that way."

2. There will be a lot of traveling to Phoenix. The way the Division I and Division II tournaments are set up, first-round matches will start today, with the second round Saturday.

The tournament then resumes April 29-30 and May 2.

In the middle of the individual tournaments, the team tournaments will take place, with the later rounds in Phoenix.

With all of the individual matches in the Phoenix area, athletes could miss up to five days of class over the next three weeks.

"I think all the travel is ridiculous," Touche said. "We're missing too much school. I understand what they are trying to do. I just wish they would go back and really look at what they are doing."

3. Southern Arizona is still strong. Although the format has changed, local players should fare well in the next few weeks.

Last year, Southern Arizona produced three team state champions - the Catalina Foothills boys and girls, and the Salpointe girls.

The I-Ridge boys played in the state title match, and three other teams, the I-Ridge girls, Salpointe boys and Sahuarita girls teams made semifinal appearances.

Also, the Pusch Ridge Christian girls won the 2A/3A title, and the St. Gregory boys won the 1A title.

This year could produce more of the same. All of those teams are poised to make a postseason run after strong regular seasons.


• Division I boys: Singles matches begin today at 7:45 a.m. at Indian School Park in Phoenix. Doubles play starts at 2 p.m.

• Division I girls: Singles matches begin today at 10:30 a.m. at the Gene Autry Tennis Center in Mesa. Doubles start at 3 p.m.

• Division II boys: Singles matches begin at 10:30 a.m. at Paseo Racquet Center in Glendale. Doubles play starts at 2:30 p.m.

• Division II girls: Singles matches begin today at 10:30 a.m. at the Phoenix Tennis Center. Doubles play starts at 2:30 p.m.