By STEVE CHOICE
The Pima Community College women’s tennis squad finished the five-day NJCAA national tournament in 13th place on May 9. The Aztecs had 18 points, just ahead of St. Petersburg College (Fla.).
It was the most points Pima has scored at nationals since moving up to Division I in 2004, and also its highest team finish ever.
“I’m so proud of how my team competed the entire season,” head coach Gretchen Schantz said. “They created many firsts, including being ranked in the top 10 early in the season.”
PCC was rated No. 7 at one point, which is the highest ranking the program has attained since joining Division I.
Pima’s final two entrants still alive in the tourney, sophomore Julienne Cananea and freshman Amy Beeston, fell in their quarterfinal matches on May 7.
Beeston dropped a 6-0, 6-0 decision to top-seeded Kylie Reynaud from Tyler Junior College (Texas). Cananea fell 6-2, 6-3 to fourth-seeded Kirsten Pierce of Tyler.
Cananea made the quarters by defeating sixth-seeded Jordan Chandler from North Central Texas College 6-3, 6-3 on the tournament’s second day.
“At the end of the day, I was able to mentally outsmart her,” the sophomore from Prescott Valley said after the match. “That pushed me to win, so I was really happy.
“I felt like I was able to be the more consistent player today. I just jumped on top of the opportunities she gave me and took it.”
Schantz was also feeling upbeat about her players’ performances on day two of the tournament, which was held at the Rekkfin Tennis Center in Tucson.
“I think my team’s playing really well,” she said. “I’m really excited to watch my team compete right now.
“It’s fun to watch. It’s been such a great season. I’m their biggest fan right now.”
Beeston advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Cowley’s Melissa Bassoo in No. 4 singles.
The No. 1 doubles team of sophomores Helen Altieri and Kari Emery dropped a thrilling 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 match to a pair from Meridian Community College (Miss.). The play was marked by numerous long rallies and improbable saves. Both pairings’ net players were challenged throughout.
Emery recently signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Nebraska Kearney next season.
Schantz was named the Wilson/Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s National Coach of the Year on day two of the tourney.
“I’m very humbled by the award and dedicate it to my team this year,” Schantz said.
She also won the ITA’s Region II Coach of the Year award on the same day.
On the tournament’s first day, the Aztecs jumped out quickly.
In singles competition, Altieri dominated Nicole Selvaggio of Moraine Valley Community College (Ill.) in the No. 1 match, 6-1, 6-0.
At No. 2, Emery beat up on Mallory Davis from Meridian Community College (Miss.) 6-1, 6-0.
Freshman Torie Wake crushed Carly Stuart of Jones County Junior College (Miss.) at No. 3, 6-1, 6-1.
At No. 5, Cananea downed Caitlin Renson of Jacksonville College (Texas) 6-1, 6-2, while sophomore Vivian Pierson took out Moraine Valley’s Kayla Annerino at No. 6, 6-4, 6-1.
In doubles, the No. 2 pairing of Wake and Beeston defeated Darrien Beckwith and Aspen McCann from Barton County Community College (Kan.) 6-0, 6-3.
Cananea and freshman Helena Meyer fell behind early in their No. 3 match, but quickly recovered to take a 6-1, 6-2 match against Kirby Shannon and Ashley Bryan of Seminole State College (Okla.).
The Aztecs finished the year 13-4 overall, including 6-2 in conference play.
Pima’s entire lineup received all-conference honors, as listed below. The Pima men’s team also had two second-team All-ACCAC selections in sophomores Brian Soto and Dylan Vo.
Altieri — singles
Beeston — singles, doubles
Cananea — doubles
Meyer — doubles
Pierson — singles
Wake — doubles
Altieri — doubles
Cananea — singles
Emery — singles, doubles
Wake — singles