First-year Coronado boys tennis coach David Willingham thought on the first day of practice that the Cougars could make a run at the Class 4A state championship.
He was right.
Coronado coasted to a 12-6 victory over Green Valley on Thursday afternoon at the Darling Tennis Center to clinch their 13th consecutive Class 4A Sunrise Region championship and a berth in the state tournament, which begins Oct. 19.
Ethan Quandt, Sebastian France and Zachary Sullivan posted 2-1 singles marks for the Cougars (13-0). Jack Hambrook and Akhil Mohan were 3-0 in doubles, and Thomas Nguyen and Jonah Blake were 2-1.
“Being new, it’s been pretty exciting,” Willingham said. “I knew we had some players and I knew they were close last year, so I knew that they had a good shot this year.”
Quandt said the Cougars were confident throughout the season and spoke highly of Willingham, adding that he did “a lot more” coaching than Coronado’s previous coach.
“He knew what he was doing, all around,” Quandt said. “Couldn’t say any worse words than he was great.”
Ryan Elezra went 3-0 singles to lead Green Valley (10-3), which will meet Palo Verde (13-3) in a state play-in match at Darling Tennis Center on Oct. 16.
Coronado’s girls tennis team unofficially won the Class 4A Sunrise Region championship after two rounds Thursday afternoon.
With no comeback in sight for opposing Green Valley, the Cougars were able to use the final round to get everyone on the team involved.
The doubles teams of Jessica Duff and Mana Iritani, Rayne Hayes and Sophia Potamitis, and Ava Nhaisi and Sidra Wohlwend each went 2-0 in the opening rounds before subbing out, as Coronado claimed its seventh region title in eight years and a berth in the state tournament with a 15-3 win over the Gators at Darling Tennis Center.
“That’s kind of the neat part,” said Coronado coach David Willingham, whose team led 11-1 after two rounds. “It’s always been about having fun, enjoying it and being a part of something a little bigger than yourself.
“It’s cool to get to a point where I can have 16 players involved, as opposed to nine. It just makes it a lot more fun and builds the team a little bit better.”
Coronado (13-0) won all six of its matches in the first round to take a commanding lead, and outside of one singles loss in the second round, the Cougars’ starters were untouchable.
No. 1 singles player Hannah Grossman went 2-0, and No. 2 Megan King went 2-1, which allowed their teammates to contribute to the victory late.
Depth is a luxury the Cougars have benefited from all season.
“We’re deep,” Willingham said. “We have three really strong singles players and four good doubles teams, which allows us to dominate other teams.”
Daria Shalina went 2-1 in singles for Green Valley (10-3), which faces Faith Lutheran (15-4) in a state play-in match at The Meadows on Oct. 16.