Tennis

The Nogales High School girls tennis team prepares to board the bus for their trip to Prescott. From left: Daniela Del Grande, Vanya Gupta, Martha Armendariz, Sofia Durazo, Dana Paola Camacho, Frida Othon, Laysha Esquer and Coach Santosh Kumar.

After the girls tennis teams from Nogales and Prescott split the six singles and first two doubles matches of Tuesday’s playoff contest, it all came down to the final doubles duel, pitting NHS juniors Frida Othon and Martha Armendariz against the No. 3 pair from Prescott.

As the only players left on the court, Armendariz and Othon were well aware that the fate of the match rested on their shoulders.

“We knew that we were the last ones,” Armendariz said. “It was very stressful.”

Still, she said, their teammates were good about not putting pressure on her and Othon.

“Me and my partner, we get nervous very easily,” Armendariz said, adding that she and Othon are also best friends, giving them a level of communication that comes in handy in tight spots.

The tension mounted after the first set ended 9-9 and the match went to a tiebreaker. But the partners from NHS stepped up and won 7-4, giving their No. 10-seeded team an upset win over No. 7 Prescott in the first round of the Division II state tournament, 5-4, at Prescott High School.

“It was nerve-wracking, but you just have to go out there with a good mindset and play with a good mindset the whole way through,” Othon said of the experience. “Even though there was a lot of pressure on us … we pulled through. The main goal is just to stay calm and just motivate yourself throughout the whole game, because you never know – you could be down, but you can always get back up and win, and that’s what we did.”

Othon also won her No. 5 singles match, 7-5, 7-5, and Armendariz took No. 6 singles by a score of 6-2, 6-4. Dana Paola Camacho earned the third singles victory for Nogales, winning 6-1, 6-2 in the No. 3 spot.

Prescott took the No. 1 doubles match, but Sofia Durazo and Camacho of Nogales won at No. 2, by a score of 8-5.

With those matches over, all eyes turned to Othon and Armendariz in the No. 3 doubles match. They started out behind, but rebounded to force a back-and-forth battle that they eventually won.

“It was really exciting. It was really fun,” Armendariz said.

It was also a valuable learning experience.

“It does help me to figure out how to keep my emotions in check and to play under a lot of pressure,” she said.

NHS now advances to the quarterfinals, where they’ll take on No. 2 Notre Dame Prep (14-0) in Scottsdale starting at 3 p.m. on May 3.

Othon said the team is ready for the challenge.

“You have nothing to lose once you get on that court. You can only hope for the best and just play your game,” she said. “Honestly, we’re in a good mindset right now, so we’re ready.”

In the meantime, several members of the NHS girls team are set to play in the state Division II individual and doubles tournaments.

Camacho will take on a player from Cactus Shadows in the first round of singles play starting at noon Friday at the Gene Autry Sports Complex in Mesa.

Vanya Gupta and Daniela Del Grande, ranked No. 7 in the doubles tournament, will play a first-round match against a pair from Acadia High School at 1:30 p.m. Friday, also in Mesa.



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