Upstart Eldorado girls set for tennis regionals

When Eldorado’s girls tennis team graduated eight starters last year, the Sundevils’ hopes of returning to the Sunrise Region tournament were slim.

Only one player with significant time would return to a team that had only six players who had picked up a racket in a varsity match. And none of those six was a senior.

The Sundevils didn’t just get younger, though. They got better.

Eldorado is the No. 2 Northeast seed in the Sunrise Region tournament after finishing second at 6-1 in league play.

“I’m still a little surprised,” Eldorado coach Jesse Medellin said. “I expected this to be a rebuilding year. I expected our lack of experience to be a problem.”

The Sunrise and Sunset Region tournaments begin today with quarterfinals, hosted by higher-seeded teams. The semifinals are Saturday, also at the sites of the higher seeds.

The finals are Monday at the Darling Tennis Center. The Sunset Region finals begin at 3 p.m. with the Sunrise finals to follow at 6. The champions in both regions and one runner-up team will advance to the state tournament, which starts Oct. 18.

Medellin’s girls host Green Valley in the first round.

“This group has really dedicated itself. There’s a different work ethic,” he said. “They knew that to get better, they were going to have to commit.

“As they saw themselves getting better, they kept wanting to improve.”

After finishing 10-7 and bowing out in the quarterfinals last season, the Sundevils are 11-4 this year. They had a chance to win the Northeast Division title in a showdown match with Las Vegas last week.

“We were always fighting for that last playoff spot,” Medellin said. “This year it was nice to be able to play for a league championship.”

The Sundevils girls aren’t the only ones making waves.

Eldorado’s boys began the season with seven players, two fewer than the number needed to field a full team.

After a 1-5 start, the Sundevils have responded to win seven of nine and enter regionals for the second straight year, this time as the No. 3 Northeast seed.

“I don’t think our boys have ever finished higher than fourth,” said Medellin, who since has added players to his team to be able to avoid forfeiting sets in a match.

The regionals for individuals begin Tuesday. Canyon Springs’ Stan Breland is the defending state champion in boys singles. Palo Verde’s David Nichols and Brandon Parker have won the past two boys doubles state titles. Silverado’s Nicole Santero and Kristen Santero were the state runners-up in girls doubles last season.

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