For years, Mingus Union High School’s girls tennis team has taken its lumps against Thunderbird.
But in this year’s first meeting, the Lady Marauders dished out the whipping, gunning down the Skyline Region’s perennial power 6-3. Mingus coach Jeff Knight called it one of the biggest wins in conference history as his undefeated squad moved past the Chiefs in the league standings.
"I believe these girls are the first to beat Thunderbird in many years," Knight said. "They (Thunderbird) are always a strong team. They still are. They will probably finish the season with the second-best record. Hopefully, right behind Mingus."
Knight and the Marauders have good reason to strut a bit after Thursday’s triumph. Mingus Union’s top four singles players and top two doubles teams each dispatched of their Chiefs opponents. Most won rather convincingly.
"I knew we had a chance to win the match because the girls have been playing well," Knight said. "It looked good on paper, and it looked even better on the court. This is a big win for the girls. They have worked hard individually and as well as a group to get to this point.
"They deserve it, and I am very proud of them."
The match began with doubles, and Marauders Angela Mier and Sara Riley got their team off to a great start. They dispatched of T-bird’s top duo 8-1.
"They basically just took it to them," Knight said. "The combination of style of play was exactly what I was hoping for, and they lived up to the task, winning convincingly."
Jill Ferreira and Julie Knight kept up the momentum with an 8-3 win at number two doubles. Tasha Gillies and Amber Gillies nearly gave Mingus a 3-0 sweep but lost a hard-fought 9-7 decision.
Mier maintained her position as the second best singles player in the region with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Thunderbird’s top player.
"It was a confidence builder for the number one Marauder as she continued her win streak after dropping her first match of the season," Knight said. "Her game is getting stronger and she is making fewer errors. She will definitely be a contender come regional tournament time."
Riley picked apart her singles foe 6-0, 6-4 to remain unbeaten on the season. Knight prevailed 7-5, 7-6 (7-3) at number three singles, and Jill Ferreira kept her record unblemished with a 6-2, 6-1 decision at number four singles.
Tasha Gillies and Amber Gillies both won their first sets, but lost their second sets and the decisive tie-breakers.
On the JV side, Mingus won all seven matches. Kate Ferreira (8-1), Krista Kessel (8-2), Stacia Osborne (9-7), Bijal Patel (8-0) and Tina Tavasci (8-6) earned singles victories. Ferreira-Kessel and Osborne-Patel swept their doubles foes 8-0.
"These first three matches (Thunderbird, Cactus Shadows and Lake Havasu), anticipated to be the toughest contests of the season, have found the Marauders with an unbelievable 45-9 overall match record," coach Knight said. "The Thunderbird victory is a big one. It shows the girls are out to win.
"We still have a lot of work to do, and everyone’s game has room for improvement. As far as the competitive spirit goes, we’re right on the mark for this point in the early season."