Tennis teams at Ironwood Ridge are enjoying fine seasons, earning 5A-II rankings of #2 for the boys and #4 for the girls.
The only team separating the Nighthawk boys from an unbeaten season is the Salpointe Lancers, who defeated the Nighthawks 6-3 in recent action. Earlier this season, Ironwood Ridge beat Salpointe 5-4.
Leading the boys team are #1 Timothy Holten and #2 Dillon Kennedy. The team's lone seniors are also the highest-ranking singles players.
"I feel comfortable with my position because of our depth," said Holten, whose lone losses have come against the Lancers. "I'm proud of our team."
After defeating Sunnyside 9-0 last Tuesday, the Nighthawks have now won nine matches by the score of 9-0, a true testament of the team's depth.
Holten counts his net play as a plus. "Doubles is my strength," he said. "I'm more of a team player."
Holton and Kennedy are defending two-time doubles champions.
"I like playing singles and doubles," Kennedy said. "Tennis is more of an individual sport. You don't have to put your (fate) in other's hands."
Kennedy has lost twice in singles and doubles.
"I really like to play all different aspects of the game," Kennedy said. "Most rallies finish at the net."
Kennedy reiterated the team's depth.
"Our depth is definitely a strength. It's nice to know your teammates are right with you. They'll take care of their business."
Kennedy plans to attend Arizona State University or the University of Pittsburgh, possibly in the biological science field.
The team's depth is rounded out by juniors Josh Taylor at #3, Conor Spiegel #5 and Dylan Vo at #6. Sophomore Alec Petford is #4.
Taylor and Spiegel were in the state finals last year in doubles.
Ryan Bais is in his fourth season coaching the boys.
"This is the first time we've been upper-class heavy," Bais said. "Our 1-6 are very good. (Winning at state) will be a lot tougher this year."
At state, singles and doubles matches for the boys are Friday, April 23 at the Phoenix Tennis Center. State play for teams begins next Monday, April 19 at the higher seed's court.
The Ironwood Ridge girls team has also found Salpointe to be a thorn. The girls are 12-2, losing twice to the Lancers. Ironwood Ridge is unbeaten in conference play.
Coach Bill Little points out the team has been dominant for most of the season.
"When we win, we usually win about 9-0." Nine of the Nighthawks wins have been 9-0, while the other three wins came by 8-1 margins.
Senior Shannon Contreras is the team's #1 seed. Contreras has lost twice to Salpointe's Courtney Amos, one of the top five players in the state. Her other two losses were against Rincon.
"She's been spectacular all four years," Little said.
Last year, Contreras made it to the state championship finals. She's been hurt of late, but Little is hoping she'll be healed by state.
The Nighthawks have an impressive group of freshmen, such as #2 seed Sara Brown, #3 Marissa Baca and #4 Emma Bose.
Baca and Brown defeated the highly-touted Amos sisters in doubles. Baca is unbeaten in singles play. Brown's only singles loss came in a match with Salpointe.
Bose pairs with Contreras as part of the second doubles team. McKenzie Grenfell is #5 and Alex Prassas is the #6 seed.
At state, singles and doubles matches for the girls are Friday, April 23 at Paseo Racquet Center.