Durango looks for fame on, off court

Pat Davis set two goals for her Durango girls tennis team this season.

One is to make the Sunset regional playoffs for the second year in a row. No surprise.

The other is to achieve the highest team grade-point average in the Southwest League.

Playing seniors with only three years’ experience, as well as juniors and sophomores who didn’t start playing tennis until they were teens, Davis said her girls will "work hard, gut it out, have fun and concentrate on scholarship."

The Melo sisters — junior Claire and sophomore Andrea — and junior Alexis Garrett form the core of the singles unit.

Senior Jamie Dean and junior Josie Dean, also sisters, are expected to contribute, too.

The backbone of the doubles court consists of sophomore Katie Moore and senior Janine Tingson.

Apart from opposing teams, the biggest challenge Durango faces is the lack of a home court. No home court means no home games. The school’s current court is being resurfaced and won’t be ready for play until Thanksgiving, after the season is over.

The team is bused after school to Sierra Vista for practice, not an ideal arrangement for any team, but doubly hard for a team with relatively untested players who need a lot of extra time on the asphalt.

Davis will not emphasize any special style of play. Instead, she said she will encourage each girl to develop her own strengths from serve-and-volleyers to power baseliners.

Davis expects members of the team to excel academically.

"I want my girls to both play hard on the court and to study hard off the court," she said.

Motivation for reaching the regionals will come in part from dedicating the season to longtime and well-loved Durango boys tennis coach Sandy Morgan, who died last spring.

"She will be our inspiration," Davis said.

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