Chairs, hats and water bottles took flight as No. 4 Ironwood Ridge’s Lady Nighthawks dispatched No. 5 Phoenix North 5-0 during a blustery afternoon last Wednesday, on their home court.

However, the wind left the Oro Valley girls’ sails when they faced top-seeded Anthem Boulder Creek in a 5-0 team semifinals defeat at Glendale’s Paseo Racquet Club on Monday.

The Nighthawks’ postseason — marked by play against virtually unknown teams during the school’s first year of 5A-level contention — capped a great run for the girls, coach William Little said.

“I think they really enjoyed the competition,” Little said.  “They certainly did their best and played their hearts out.”

A lockdown performance (6-2, 6-2) from No. 3 Maile Hoffmann over North’s Bianca Roman helped lead the quarterfinal charge, along with dominant wins from Megan Gillespie and Kelley Carson (6-1, 6-2 and 6-3, 6-2).

North’s No. 1 Emma Ignaszewski swung out to a 3-0 lead over Shannon Contreras, before the Nighthawks senior rallied to win the series at 7-5, 6-1.

“It was not my best day, but I still pulled through,” Contreras said.

The best wasn’t good enough Monday, though, as Boulder Creek’s Vanessa Green topped Contreras in a tight 6-4, 6-4 series.

“I think that we put up a good fight,” Contreras said.  “We just didn’t pull through.”

The No. 5 Nighthawk boys blew through their team competition, however, clenching their own title berth by knocking off No. 8 Mountain View 5-0 on Monday, at Glendale’s Paseo Racquet Center.

It was the third straight shutout for the guys in state competition, which set them up for the 5A-II crown match against No. 2 Phoenix North on Tuesday.  

Early that morning, Coach Ryan Bais said his guys felt great after taking about an hour to achieve the semifinals win, while their opponent North drew out a three-hour affair.

“It gives us a little bit extra rest, so that’s always a good thing,” Bais said.

Despite graduating their captain last year — back-to-back state singles champ John Nanosky — Bais didn’t sound overly surprised that the team ended up poised to hang their second straight state banner.

“There was a little bit of uncertainty at first,” Bais said. “But they handled it well and it’s nice to be back here again.”

Tuesday afternoon’s finals outcome was not available until after The Explorer went to press. However, Bais felt confident that all six Nighthawks positions were solid enough for the win — while North featured a “sharp drop-off” after their top two players.

“I think if we’re going to beat them, depth is where it’s at,” Bais said.

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