Crusaders advance to region playoffs in inaugural season

Faith Lutheran’s girls entered the tennis season with huge stars in their eyes.

In their inaugural season, the Crusaders were almost intimidated to be going up against top-notch teams such as Palo Verde and The Meadows.

Yet, Faith Lutheran has shined almost as brightly.

The Crusaders (8-2) finished third in the Northwest League and qualified for the Sunset Region playoffs in their first season. They’ll open region play at Bonanza at 3 p.m. Monday.

“I don’t want to say they were intimidated going into the season,” coach Brad Edelman said. “They weren’t afraid of their own ability; they’d just heard so much about the other schools. We just did what we could as coaches to keep them focused and relaxed.”

And that wasn’t always easy.

“I honestly didn’t expect this,” sophomore Olivia Demarta said. “Sometimes we’re a little intimidated, but we still go out and play hard.”
Edelman helped get the wheels in motion last season, forming a tennis club at the school. Several students showed interest, but plans were made too late last year to have a varsity team.

So both the boys and girls teams had to wait until this season to compete at the varsity level, often against schools with more than three times Faith Lutheran’s enrollment.

The Crusaders had 11 girls on the roster, including only two seniors and three juniors.

“From what I hear, there have always been parents asking why there wasn’t tennis. We have every other sport,” Edelman said. “It might be the first year at Faith, but certainly there are some veterans on the squad. We’re lucky enough to be in an area where there’s a lot of tennis and a lot of tennis families.”

The Crusaders also are good enough to be a contender.

Faith Lutheran clinched its playoff spot with consecutive 10-8 wins against Cimarron-Memorial and Arbor View and an
18-0 win over Cheyenne.

“I didn’t think we’d be this good,” sophomore Nikki Pizzoferrato said. “When we came out for the first practice, we had a lot of work to do, but now I’m really impressed. Everyone has improved so much.”

The other Sunset Region first-round matchups are Arbor View at Southwest League champion and defending state champion Bishop Gorman; Clark at Northwest champion Palo Verde; and Durango at The Meadows.

The Sunrise Region first-round matchups are Basic at Northeast champion Las Vegas; Silverado at Eldorado; Valley at Southeast champion Coronado; and Canyon Springs at Green Valley.

The girls second-round play is scheduled for Wednesday, with both regional finals slated for Oct. 10 at Darling Tennis Center.

The boys tournament begins play Saturday. Match times will be set today.

In the Sunset Region, Clark visits Northwest champion and defending state champion Palo Verde; Sierra Vista is at Centennial; Arbor View is at Southwest champion Bonanza; and Shadow Ridge is at Bishop Gorman. The Shadow Ridge-Gorman match will be played at Shadow Ridge as Gorman does not have courts and its adopted home courts at the Darling center are unavailable.

In the Sunrise Region, Silverado visits Northeast champion Eldorado; Green Valley is at Rancho; Valley travels to Southeast champion Coronado; and Canyon Springs is at Foothill.

The Silverado-Eldorado boys match will be played Monday. Boys second-round play is scheduled for Tuesday, with the regional finals on Oct. 10 at the Darling Center.