The Skyline Region girls tennis season has almost reached the midpoint, and every team is still chasing Mingus Union.
The Lady Marauders improved to 6-0 in region play, 8-0 overall, on Tuesday with a 9-0 shutout at Buckeye. Mingus will take the next week off for spring break and then will cycle through the Skyline schedule a second time before the region tournament.
"Sensational and gutsy play has typified the Marauder girls tennis team's eight straight victories to remain undefeated," said coach Jeff Knight.
One of the more gutsy performances of the season came from top singles player Angela Mier, in Tuesday's duel with Buckeye. The stellar junior likely knew the Marauders would take the overall team victory regardless of how her match played out.
But Mier, who had split with the Hawks' number one player last year, battled back from a one-set deficit to capture the second set and the decisive tiebreaker. Her win kept the 9-0 team "bagel" intact.
"The second set was a back-and-forth, see-saw battle that was shifting in Buckeye's favor as Angela's opponent was serving and leading 4-3," Knight said. "After a change-over conference, Angela decided it was time to crank it up a notch and proceeded to play some of her best tennis as she took the second set 6-3."
Mier also had to sweat out a tough doubles match with teammate Julie Knight. The Marauder duo jumped to a 7-4 lead in the one-set battle.
"However, before the sun set they found themselves in a tiebreaker," coach Knight said. "Apparently (Angela) wanted to see just how much stress her coach could endure."
Mier and Knight won the first three points in the tiebreaker before Buckeye pulled even at 4. An unfortunate bounce off the net cord gave the Hawks a 6-5 lead, and the home team stood one point from the win.
"A superfast Buckeye serve appeared to spell certain doom for the Marauders," coach Knight said. "However, an even better return by Julie caused a much-too-weak reply, and Angela Mier smashed the poor little tennis ball into more of a pancake shape than spherical.
"It broke Buckeye's back badly, and the Marauders claimed the number one prize."
The Mingus coach had more reasons to wax poetic about his team as the Marauders swept the remaining matches.
Sara Riley (6-3, 6-2), Julie Knight (6-3, 6-0), Jill Ferreira (6-1, 6-2) and Amber Gillies (6-4, 6-3) earned straight-sets singles wins. Tasha Gillies dominated a tiebreaker 7-1 after splitting with her Buckeye foe in the first two sets.
Riley and Ferreira cruised at number one doubles 8-0. Amber Gillies and Tasha Gillies prevailed 8-5.
On the JV side, Mingus won four pro-set singles matches by a combined 32-1 tally. Krista Kessel teamed up for the first time with freshman Natalie Alred for an 8-1 doubles win. Stacia Osborne and Julie Beal whipped their JV foes 8-3.
The Marauders' first match after spring break will be against non-region foe Sedona Red Rock on Tuesday, March 27. Seven Skyline matches follow and then the region tournament April 16.