After both boys and girls teams won the City Tennis Meet that ended April 1—and with both undefeated in their regular season matching—Corona’s tennis program is on track to have either one of them emerge among the top seeds in the state tournament less than a month away.
Getting to the state tennis tournament, though, is harder with new AIA rules.
“In order to qualify for state, teams need to finish in the top three in their section or be in the top 16 in power points for all three Division I sections combined,” said boys head coach Rick Wanta.
In addition, teams are restricted on the players who get to compete at the state individual tournament.
“As far as which players get to play in the state individual tournament is concerned, each team gets to send one singles player and one doubles team,” said Wanta. “In previous seasons, you could send all six of your varsity players, two in singles and four in doubles.”
Corona’s girls tennis team may seem young, with only one senior, Rachel McKay, but the Lady Aztecs
proved this season they have depth and experience, with three additional returning varsity players in juniors Maia Castiglione, Jannah Pfotenhauer and Tien Tran.
“Our weakness may be tournament experience,” said coach Carol Sandvig. “But we have depth and team spirit.”
For instance, the team’s current record is 8-0 in regular play, while at the recent City Meet Tournament they more than doubled the score of their closest competitor, winning City for the 11th consecutive time.Coronascored 73 points while Mountain Pointe had 31 and Desert Vista 27.
Individual champions included the No. 2 singles player, sophomore Sarah Rutkowski; No. 3, Pfotenhauer; No. 4, Tran; No. 5, McKay; and No. 6, junior Joyce Wen.
Doubles champions, playing atCorona’s No. 1 spot, were Castiglione and Tran; the No. 2 team of Pfotenhauer and Rutkowski; and the No. 3 team of McKay and Wen.
Currently at No. 6 in power rankings overall and No. 2 behind powerhouse Xavier in Section II, the Lady Aztecs are close to meeting the goals they set early on.
“Our goal is to finish the regular season undefeated and have an opportunity to go to State,” said Sandvig. “We have a good chance because our returning players have worked hard to improve match play, plus their team spirit is very unselfish and supportive.”
Coronahas had three away games on the schedule already this month: April 3 at Gilbert, April 4 at Westwood and April 5 at Desert Vista. Then the last three matches of the season will be April 12 at Dobson, April 17 against Mountain Pointe and April 18 against Casa Grande.
Corona’s boys tennis team dominated the City Meet, winning the championship by compiling 63 points to Desert Vista’s 35 and Mountain Pointe’s 19 as the next closest teams. DesertVista won last season.
The Aztecs had four individual City champions: Alex Lawson playing the No. 1 spot; Divya Rayudu at No. 3; Thaminda Edirisooriya at No. 4; and Alex Jing at No. 6.
Doubles team champions were Lawson and Edirisooriya as the No. 1 doubles team playing for Corona, with Kevin McMahon and Rayudu as the No. 2 team.
Coronais counting on Lawson to represent the Aztecs in his fourth consecutive individual state appearance.
“Alex will be our singles representative if he can stay healthy,” said Wanta. “He has great state-tournament experience playing both doubles and singles and will hopefully be in position to win his fourth state championship.”
Lawson won two doubles state championships with Kyle Ogren as a freshman and sophomore, then went it alone after Ogren graduated. He won a singles championship last year and should be representingCorona again in singles this year. The doubles team for this year’s state tournament has not been decided, according to Wanta.
In addition to Lawson, the Aztecs are getting excellent play from three other returning letter winners: junior McMahon; seniors Rayudu and Edirisooriya; and sophomore Conor Prindiville.
“This will be Thaminda’s third season playing varsity,” said Wanta. “He is also one of this year’s graduation-class valedictorians and will be attending Stanford in the fall.”
Sophomore Connor Harber has been playing the No. 6 singles spot but junior Pranav Balaji and freshman Alex Jing have also been seeing varsity action this season, according to Wanta.
The Aztecs are also 8-0, ranked No. 5 in power rankings overall and No. 2 in their section behind Brophy. With only a couple of weeks left in the regular season, they had four home games scheduled before two away games to finish the season.
Several local high school athletes received recognition at the Tempe All-City Winter Awards Banquet held March 26.
Tempe High School athletes receiving awards included Amy Bello for girls soccer; James Sanchez for wrestling; and Kevin Reyes and Salvador Sanchez for boys soccer.
McClintock had eight recipients: Natalee Huguez, Itzel Molina, Adriana Puente-Reinhardt and Breanna Sage for girls soccer; Paul Astrain and Andres Estrada, boys soccer; Ben Cuevas, boys basketball; and Andrew Finn, wrestling.
Marcos de Niza took third place at the DII state wrestling tournament with the help of five wrestlers and TACA awards winners: Rashad Baker-Walker, Richard Castro, Jesse Morales, Zach Roybal and Dylan Yole.
Castro, wrestling in the Heavy Weight category, placed second at state and was named to the All-Tribune First Team. Morales, at 138 pounds, won his second state title and was on the All-Tribune Second Team, as was Roybal who took home a fourth-place medal from state at 113 pounds. Yole, 170 pounds, was second at state and named to the All-Tribune Honorable Mention.
Marcos de Niza’s Connor Buckley, Danny Molina, Mike Reddington and Victor Sanchez received awards for boys soccer while Syndie Lengyel was awarded for girls basketball and Devon White for boys basketball.
Coronawinter sports teams had a good season demonstrated by 15 Aztec athletes receiving TACA awards.
The boys basketball team topped off a 32-1 season by winning the Division I state championship with outstanding play from sophomore Casey Benson and seniors Avery Moss and Calaen Robinson, recipients of TACA awards.
“Casey, who averaged 15.4 point a game, was tremendous in what he brought into his role to help up win the championship,” said coach Sam Duane Jr. “Avery became a strong leader on and off the court who averaged 10.4 points and 10.3 rebounds a game.”
“Calaen, who averaged 18.4 points per game and was selected as the Player of the Year by the Tribune and the Arizona Coaches Association, and to the All-Arizona Team by the Republic, has a bright future ahead of him,” said Duane.
“He sacrificed for the team, which ultimately made winning the championship a more likely scenario,” he said. ”Both Calaen and Avery left a tremendous legacy atCorona.”
In addition, Duane was given a TACA Coach of the Year award.
“The coach’s award is a byproduct of having a really talented group of players that believed in each other and their coach, and really put winning first,” said Duane. “Good players make good coaches, so I am grateful for the chance to have had such a tremendous group this year.”
Receiving TACA awards for the girls basketball team were junior Alexa Hogberg and freshman Taylor Kalmer.
“Alexa is an outstanding point guard who led our team in scoring and assists,” said coach Andrew Strom. “She is very creative on the floor and exciting to watch.”
“Taylor had an amazing freshman season,” said Strom. “She is an incredible shooter, has incredible work ethic. I really appreciate how hard she works.”
The Aztec wrestling team took sixth place at state with the help of TACA award winners seniors Robert Butler and Jay Tucker and sophomore Glenn Farina.
Butler compiled a 27-16 record, finishing fourth in sectionals and sixth at state after finishing fifth in four weight classes below what he wrestled as a senior in 2011.
“Robert grew three weight classes over the summer, but wrestled up four weight classes for us giving up weight every match,” said coach Jim Martinez. “He’s a fighter who always seemed to find ways to win. He’s a true competitor who also brought a lot of fun to the room.”
Tucker ended his season as a runner up at sectionals and took third place at state after not being cleared to wrestle until the day before sectionals following a concussion in December.
“Jay was named to the Southwest Showdown All-Tournament Team in early December before his injury,” said Martinez. “He was a good team member and we are going to miss his competitiveness and his playfulness at practices.”
Farina, with a 32-8 records his second year on varsity, was runner up at sectionals and took sixth at state.
“Glenn was one of our captains as a sophomore because of the kind of work ethic and character he brings to the team,” saidMartinez.
The Aztecs had seven soccer athletes receive TACA awards. The boys team had seniors Ed Magana and Zac von Allworden and junior Ellis Rutili, while seniors Dallas Johnson and Nicolette Newcomb and juniors Kelsey Cartwright and Olivia Montoya received awards for the girls team.
“Dallas had one of the finest seasons of any defender in the 12 years I have been atCorona. She was recognized All Division,” said coach Matt Smith. “Nicolette is an incredibly creative player who is going on to Minot State University to play this fall.”
“Kelsey is an unbelievable leader who has been Tempe All City the last two years. We are counting on her for an extraordinary season in 2012-13, while Olivia continues to be one of the hardest working Aztecs I have had in my coaching career. She also has been Tempe All City the past two years and we are counting on another great season next year as a senior.”
Corona’s boys basketball coach Sam Duane Jr. was named Arizona high school Big Schools Coach of the Year by the Republic. Duane led the Aztecs to 32-1 record, culminating with the school’s first championship since 1994.
“I was very lucky to have good players that were committed to a goal and sacrificed for each other,” said Duane. “It was a special season and one our whole school can be proud of.”
Dave Vibber, former head track coach and head wrestling coach at Corona, was honored for his years of service to Corona, at a short ceremony before the Aztec Invitational Track Meet. Vibber was designated the meet dedicatee, awarded a plaque from athletic director Dan Nero and was the honorary starter for Men’s 40-Yard Dash.