KINGMAN - It was an early exit for the Kingman High boys tennis team in the Arizona 5A-II state tournament. The Bulldogs were bounced out in the first round 5-0 by Horizon in Scottsdale Monday.
"We were a lot more competitive this year," KHS coach Ken Stalsberg said. "Their coach congratulated us and was real glad we didn't get to doubles play."
Senior Jon Casson had the toughest chore for the Bulldogs when he took on Nick Montoya, the defending state champion in singles. Casson went down 6-1, 6-2 to Montoya.
"Nick was as strong as everyone thought," Casson said. "The first set was just horrible, but the second had some good tennis."
Zach Hiatt, Brett Nailor and Cody Schoonover all lost 6-1, 6-0, and Sam Martin fought hard at No. 4 in a 6-0, 7-5 loss. Tom Chastain had his match cancelled after Horizon won five and trailed 4-6, 4-4 when it was called.
"Sam and Tom did really well," Stalsberg said.
The team gears up for the singles and doubles state championships, which begin Friday in Glendale.
"The team got better as the season went on," the coach said. "Everyone improved from last year. We had two more wins this year, and the team was focused all season long. They picked each other up when we needed it."
In anticipation for state tournament week, both the boys and girls teams participated in the For the Love of the Game doubles tournaments in Anthem last Friday and Saturday. Casson teamed with his sister, Natalie, to win the Mixed Doubles Gold Bracket with a 3-0 record. The Cassons won 8-2, 8-1 and 10-2.
"We played so well, we could have beaten any all-guy team at the tournament," Jon said.
Natalie, a freshman, was thrilled to have the chance to play with her brother before he graduates.
"It was a lot of fun," she said. "We played good as a team."