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Surprising Bulldog boys grab No. 2 seed for postseason

Even the most ardent of supporters didn’t expect a lot from Virgin Valley’s boys tennis team this season. Nor should they have.

The Bulldogs’ postseason experience is comprised of one 18-0 quarterfinal loss, and that came in an exceptional season when the team finished, well, 5-5.

Surprise.

Virgin Valley (11-1) is the Sunrise League’s No. 2 seed for the Division I-A Southern Region playoffs, which begin at 3 p.m. Monday when the Bulldogs host Faith Lutheran (11-5).

“It surprises me a lot,” said Bulldog coach Jon Felix. “Coming into the year I thought we could win some games, and if we could get to a winning season, that would be great. We hit about 6-0, and I told the kids that state was in our sights.”

It seemed like a far-fetched idea early in the season, especially for a team whose No. 1 singles player just picked up the game last summer.

“The kids want to win state,” Felix said. “Tennis had been kind of a joke at our school, but over the last couple of years these kids have really changed that. Now people want to come out and watch us play. It has generated a lot of interest in the community.”

Kadan Atkin, a senior, is the team’s top singles player, and should receive a top-five seed for the region singles tournament.

“He came to me at the end of last year and said he wanted to play,” Felix said. “He’s really dedicated. He practices a ton. He doesn’t win all of them, but he wins his fair share.”

Juniors Jacob Mikkelsen and Nate Hughes carried an undefeated record into the final match of the regular season before finally dropping a set.

“I don’t worry about them at all,” Felix said. “They’re such good players.”

But maybe the Bulldogs’ biggest asset has nothing to do with skill. The players genuinely enjoy being around each other.

“We’re having fun more than anything,” Felix said. “We’re trying to keep things light and fun here. These guys are really excited about the playoffs. They’re excited that they get to play at home. They want to win state.”

In other Southern Region quarterfinal matches Monday, Western (5-7) is at Chaparral (11-2); Moapa Valley (8-5) is at The Meadows (10-3); and Boulder City (5-7) visits Clark (13-1). The region final is at 3 p.m. Friday at Darling Tennis Center.

In the Division I Sunrise Region quarterfinals Monday, it’s: Rancho (5-6) at Coronado (10-0); Basic (5-6) at Green Valley (10-0); Las Vegas (5-5) at Liberty (8-2); and Foothill (6-4) at Valley (9-3).

In the Division I Sunset Region quarterfinals Monday, it’s: Sierra Vista (5-5) at Bishop Gorman (8-2); Durango (5-9) at Centennial (11-0); Desert Oasis (6-6) at Palo Verde (11-0); and Cimarron-Memorial (7-4) at Spring Valley (6-4).

Both Division I region finals are Saturday at Darling.

The girls quarterfinals all are at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

In the Division I-A Southern Region, it’s Adelson School (5-6) at Boulder City (11-1); Clark (9-5) at Desert Pines (11-5); Moapa Valley (9-4) at Faith Lutheran (14-2); and Tech (4-8) at The Meadows (12-1). The region final is at 6 p.m. Friday at Darling.

In the Division I Sunrise Region, the winner of Monday’s play-in between Silverado (3-7) and Valley (4-8) will be at Coronado (10-0); Foothill (4-6) is at Green Valley (10-0); Las Vegas (7-3) visits Liberty (7-3); and Basic (6-5) is at Rancho (8-3).

In the Division I Sunset Region, it’s Durango (3-9) at Gorman (10-0); Sierra Vista (7-3) at Bonanza (9-3); Desert Oasis (5-7) at Palo Verde (11-0); and Centennial (6-5) at Shadow Ridge (7-3).
Both Division I region finals are Saturday at Darling.

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