Tue, June 18

Youth is served for Mingus Union girls tennis

Mingus sophomore Rhyme Uekusa tracks the ball as she returns a backhand. VVN/James Kelley

Mingus sophomore Rhyme Uekusa tracks the ball as she returns a backhand. VVN/James Kelley


Angel Franco So

Kenya Harris So

Aine Khin Fr

Trinity Melgoza Fr

Jasmine Nauenburg So

Alena Reid So

Anna Schreiber So

Destiny Swapp So

Rhyme Uekusa So

Mingus Union girls tennis doesn’t have any upperclassmen this season but the young Marauders have head coach Andrea Meyer excited.

Mingus Union saw six of its players graduate last year.

“We are very young,” Meyer said. “We have no upperclassmen, we only have sophomores and freshmen. We graduated six seniors last year, all varsity, so it’s going to be a year of growth and improvement and setting our sights on personals goals, rather than the win/loss column.”

The Marauders (1-1) did open the season with a 7-2 win at San Tan Valley Poston Butte.

“We did, nicely, get a win in that first match last week against Poston Butte before the snow fell over Mingus Mountain,” Meyer said. “I continue to say that my teams are just dream girls to work with, they’re amenable to coaching, they’re eager to help each other and my assistant coach and I, Susanna Ventura, are training these girls to focus on their side of the court, on our own side of the court to see what we can do. Things like moving our feet, things like where our positioning is for doubles and to do those things that we have a lot of control over, because the other teams, especially the Phoenix teams, are going to be more experienced and they’re going to hit the ball with more pace and we’re just not there yet but match by match improvement is what Susanna and I are happy to see.”

Meyer said she is also impressed with the Marauder parents, enthusiastically cheering on their kids and supporting the coaches.

Freshman Aine Khin takes over the No. 1 singles spot and though she’s a rookie facing juniors and seniors, Meyer’s pupil has impressed her during the high school season so far.

“She’s been taking private lessons with me for about two and a half years and she’s a freshman, so she won the No. 1 spot and she’s been a delightful surprise,” Meyer said. “She has made so many gains in the last six months as far as hitting the ball with pace and directing the ball, not just hitting the ball hard but placing it and working hard to improve her serve, to make it a weapon, to make it actually offensive and so I was delighted with her first win of her high school career in doubles last week. But tough position to be in because she’s a freshman and it’s a lot to ask a freshman to play against, frankly a lot of seniors and juniors, who’ve been playing in the Valley for years and years, but I told her that this year was an investment year and if she invested and kept investing and kept the faith, she would have a game that could be a weapon next year. She’s just developing beautifully.”

After playing golf in the fall and soccer in the winter, sophomore Anna Shriver has stepped in the No. 2 and emerged as one of the captains.

“She’s been a real team leader, she’s one of our captains and she talked to the girls (Tuesday) about walking on the court with authority and command and those were heard words, authority, so that we didn’t present ourselves as being an easy win and I think that was a great message for the girls to hear because they’re going to have a lot of losses this year, you know, probably, but that’s not what we’re focused on, we’re focused on personal improvements and personal goals,” Meyer said.

Those six 2018 seniors left an impact on their then freshmen teammates.

“The great thing about that was I had all those seniors to fill out the varsity ladder and all of them were experienced, but these sophomores got great a chance to see mature leadership because those seniors were just impeccable people, off the court, on the court, they were scholars, they were active in their churches, they were active in doing things for their neighbors and other people and having fun,” Meyer said. “So last year’s freshmen really got to see what effective, friendly leadership looked like and they’ve been stepping into those roles and giving pregame talks that could have come out of adult mouths.”

Meyer credits some of the leadership from the captains, Shriver and sophomore Rhyme Uekusa, the No. 3 singles player, with the monthly captains club meetings from athletic director Yancey DeVore.

“Two of our girls, Anna Shriver and Rhyme Uekusa go to those meetings, they’ve been going since the fall, and so they were prepared to assume that leadership and to have something effective to say to the girls and something relevant to say to the girls,” Meyer said.