Natalie Casson is the picture of concentration in her match with Desert Mountainís Krisi Lee Wednesday. Lee won, 6-2, 6-2.
Cortney McCans lines up a return in her 6-2, 6-2 loss to Desert Mountainís Rachel Bear Wednesday.
KINGMAN - Although the Kingman High tennis team lost to Scottsdale Desert Mountain 5-0 in the first round of the Division I state tennis tournament, they still walked off the courts in Kingman Wednesday with their heads held high.
The fact that they were one of the Top 8 teams in Division I and were hosting a state playoff event is something to be proud of for a school that hasn't seen much athletic success in recent years.
"Especially in Division I. They made it in the top 8, so they should be proud of themselves," said KHS coach Traci Rosenbach. "There are 57 teams in Division I for tennis and we are in the top 8. That's outstanding. I couldn't be prouder of them this year."
To even be in the position the Lady Bulldogs found themselves in Wednesday afternoon is something that might've been unthinkable two years ago, when KHS only won three matches.
Last year, KHS surprised teams and qualified for the state team tournament with a 10-3 record. This year, Kingman was out to prove last year was no fluke and they did just that by finishing the regular season 11-2, securing the No. 8 seed and the host spot in the first round.
"To host state was pretty awesome," said senior Natalie Casson. "From my freshman year in not going and my sophomore year not going and we went last year and this year host. It's progressively getting better and better."
Casson dropped her singles match with Krisi Lee, 6-2, 6-2, but finished the regular season 13-0. Her doubles partner, Gabby Huffer, dropped her match, 6-4, 6-2, to Courtney Hicks. While Casson and Huffer dropped matches in the team tournament, the two are still alive in the individual state doubles tournament today. The duo advanced out of last weekend's competition to today's quarterfinals, where they will face No. 1 seed Phoenix Xavier's Margaret Cohen and Scarlet Rush.
"I think win or lose, I'm still going to be proud as long as we play our hardest," Huffer said.
KHS junior Cortney McCans lost her first-round match in last week's singles tournament and the doubles team of Trudy Massie and Lara Iozzo fell in the first round of the doubles tournament.
McCans, who ended the regular season 13-0, lost Wednesday to Rachel Bear, 6-2, 6-2. Other scores included Alejandrina Zapata's (6-0, 6-0) loss to Lauren Wiekle; Iozzo's (6-1, 6-3) loss to Jenny Song; and Massie's (6-3, 4-6) loss to Callie Zirbel. Zirbel was leading Massie 3-0 in the tiebreak when the match was stopped after Desert Mountain clinched the match with its fifth singles win.
"I think we did good," Iozzo said. "Even though we didn't win, I think we played our best. I think we could've won, but sometimes you have your off days and today was an off day."
KHS will lose two players in Casson and foreign exchange student Zapata, but will return the core group that has helped with success over the last two years, including Huffer and McCans.
"We are losing two, but we have some coming back, and I'm hoping some of the JV girls will play and take some lessons because we do have some shoes to fill," Rosenbach said. "(Casson) is a tough loss but over half the team is coming back.
"They have all improved so much and they should be proud of that. They should see that from year to year, just their record alone shows how much they've improved."