|High Desert Tennis Association|
Tennis Notebook: Hawks hope to feel at home
By GERALD TANG / Staff Writer
For the four local playoff teams preparing for the first round Thursday, the situation is clear: Win or go home.
At least they get to start off at home — except Silverado, which will begin the postseason against Garey in Pomona.
League champions play host in the first round. As the No. 2 seed in the Desert Sky League, the Hawks drew a road match against the Mt. Baldy League champions.
The team will leave Victorville at 12:30 p.m. on game day.
"I would prefer not to have to travel, but my players are really happy and excited," coach Suzi Paxton said. "They think it’s great."
If the players are in the adventurous spirit, it’s only fitting that their opponent be somewhat of a surprise.
When playoff time hits in sports like basketball or football, coaches frantically work the phones to compile extensive scouting reports and game film.
"Tennis is a different animal," Paxton said. "The general things aren't very helpful."
Virtually no teams film their matches. It’s not like the coaches need to figure out how to solve a zone defense or pitch to an aggressive fastball hitter.
Sure, strategy might come into play against an opponent with a good serve-and-volley game. But the players rotate after each set, so the next guy could just as well be a baseliner.
In all probability, each singles player and doubles squad will face a variety of playing styles and skill levels during a given match. So a team’s playoff preparation focuses primarily on itself, not the opponent.
STAYING HOME: As for the teams not commuting for the first round, Serrano might benefit the most with its youth and inexperience. Doubles player Chris Luong is the lone senior on the roster.
Instead of making the 90-mile trip to Temecula, the Diamondbacks will face Chaparral on their familiar home courts in Phelan.
"It’s a good advantage," coach Linda Turrill said. "You don't have to be sitting in a hot van, driving an hour and a half, missing school and everything."
In addition to their experience with the High Desert winds, the Diamondbacks will have another home-court asset. They can warm up for an hour before the road team arrives, then watch the opposing players hit before the match.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Singles — There was no shame in second place at the league championships. Players who made it that far qualified for the CIF Individual championships.
Congratulations to all the finalists: DSL champ Patrick McCray of Granite Hills and runner-up Ben Zagala of Silverado; and two-time MRL winner Tenis Taing of Sultana and Apple Valley’s Donnie Wicks.
Gerald Tang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 951-6281.