Facing the defending state champion year after year is a daunting task.
But the Desert View High girls tennis team looks forward to playing Catalina Foothills, which has won seven straight state titles.
"After we play this match, my girls are so much better," said Desert View coach Stacy Haines. "The girls aren't the same players afterward that they were when they began this match. They have gotten better."
Monday's edition of the annual match ended much like most do: Catalina Foothills 9, Desert View 0. But it isn't about the results.
Both coaches, Haines and the Falcons' Kristie Stevens, said the matchup makes both programs better and epitomizes respect and sportsmanship.
"Seeing Stacy and his girls is great because he runs a great program," Stevens said. "It's just fun for our girls to compete against each other."
Throughout their friendship, the coaches put each other on the schedule every year, even if the two programs represent different tennis backgrounds.
Most of the Falcons come into high school having played competitively for several years, but most Jaguars pick up a racket for the first time when they join the Desert View team.
Playing in her first match on Monday, Desert View junior Vanessa Lopeaux was overpowered. but the experience was something she wouldn't trade.
"It has helped boost my confidence," Lopeaux said. "I don't think I'll be as scared in the next match. It has helped me become a better player."
Her teammates agreed.
"It is always an honor to play against Foothills," Jaguars senior Priscilla Rojas said. "It seems that our team always comes out with a positive experience of this. We come out better players and we're very proud of that."
Foothills continues to be the best 4A team in the state, so what do the Falcons get from the Desert View experience?
"It's a learning experience for us as well, playing against different types of players, and you always have to adjust," Falcon senior Monet Vakili said.
"It is something to look forward to every year. This is always a fun match and you go out relaxed because you know they are a good team and will play fair."
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