4A II State boys tennis doubles
GLENDALE -- Alex Lineberry and Paul Paradise became the 4AII State Champions this season in tennis doubles. The Marauder duo had two easy rounds and two challenging rounds in their path to Mingus history.
Lineberry and Paradise played doubles together on last year's tennis team that tied for 3rd place at the Team State competition and were undefeated in team match competition. Both also played singles in the Individual competition and Lineberry won second place at state.
"This year, as both player's showed impressive improvement, they decided to 'have fun' at state and give the doubles title a shot," said coach Jeff Knight. "With Alex being a junior he would have another shot at the single's title next year and this year, with Paul, a senior, as a doubles partner, the timing was perfect."
It was a difficult decision for Lineberry because he is first and foremost a singles player. However, with his impressive tennis ability and Paradise's great work ethic, the two were able to put together a state title run without dropping a set.
For the last four year's, in one category or another, Mingus has played for a State Title. However, the best they could do is state runner-up three years running. Apparently, the fourth time is a charm and Mingus finally earned the top prize.
The first two rounds were business as usual for the No. 4 seeded Mingus team as they beat a good Douglas team 6-2, 6-0 and then a team from Dysart 6-0, 6-0 in the first day of competition. It was an impressive venue as hundreds of athletes from 5AI/II and 4AI/II all gathered at the Paseo Racquet Club for a day of State competition.
The next day, Lineberry and Paradise were up against the No.1 seeded team from Catalina High School. Like Mingus, it was their top two players who were also region champions. Lineberry and Paradise, the more aggressive players, were up against a very skilled defensive team who returned many balls and made great shots. They also slowed the match to a 'turtle's pace' in hopes of disrupting the Mingus boys. The tactic was nearly successful, but Lineberry and Paradise battled through for a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
In the final Championship round, the Mingus duo met with quite a different team from Seton Catholic. In a match played in nearly half the time, the two teams played the most impressive tennis of the State Doubles Tournament.
The challenge was against a duo that had played together for the last two years. This duo was very skilled as a doubles team. Although Lineberry and Paradise played together last year with great success, it was at the number two position. This year the two boys had only played together as a doubles team once before.
Lineberry and Paradise won the first set 6-4 in a well-played match in which the two 'stepped up' to put away their opponents. Picking on Paradise, the Seton duo hit the ball repeatedly at him. However, Paradise played tough and if their opponents were less than perfect, Lineberry swept in for solid winners.
The second set found Lineberry and Paradise down 1-4 and in trouble. In a pivotal game, with the best Seton player serving, who had held serve the entire match, Lineberry and Paradise showed their true character and pushed the game to deuce several times. Seton was the first to crack as Mingus pushed the set to 2-4 and finally 4-4. Here the two teams both fought hard with some incredible tennis.
It is often possible to come from behind to tie up a set, but once tied it is sometimes difficult to keep up the intensity. Although struggling in the ninth game, Mingus held on to go up 5-4. That was 'all she wrote' as Lineberry served for the match. In the absolute best service game of the match, and only seven serves later, Mingus became the State 4AII Doubles Champion.
A 'hefty' crowd had gathered to watch Lineberry serve out the match, and the two players walked off the court to the cheers of their teammates.
"Alex played superb tennis and Paul played his best as the two together provided the needed punch to pull off a State Title," said coach Knight. "It did not come easy, but they played like true champions."
Lineberry and Paradise were not the only Marauders at the State Tournament. Bobby Lee earned a trip as conference runner-up in singles. However, he got drawn to face his region champion in the first round.
Lee, however, was not intimidated and played 'out of his mind' to win the first set 7-5. The Grand Canyon Region Champ was totally frustrated as Lee was patient and ripped winner after winner against a very skilled defensive player.
Cruising 4-1 in the second set, misfortune came Lee's way. On a powerful forehand, his strings broke. Using a five year old racquet, Lee lost a little confidence and the Page No. 1 one player seized the opportunity. It was still a hard fought set but Lee's previous 'on the money' strokes lost a little and too many errors cost him the set.
The third set was a fight, but Lee never regained his first set 'magic' and lost 6-3.
"It was great to see Bobby playing the best match of his life and may be key as the Marauders face Palo Verde in the second round of Team State competition," said coach Knight. The Marauder team batted in Tucson on Tuesday in the second round of the Team State Tournament. The third round will be on Friday at the Paseo Racquet Center at 1:30 p.m.