Grant Leveque
ASU Student Journalist

Casteel girls' tennis is back and ready for an avenging season

February 25, 2022 by Grant Leveque, Arizona State University

Casteel's tennis courts glisten as they wait to be used (Grant Leveque Photo/AZpreps365)

Grant Leveque is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Casteel High School for

Finally, tennis is back in the spotlight and it could not have come quick enough for the Casteel girl’s varsity team, who has been relentlessly preparing since last year's upsetting and abrupt end to the season.

In one of the last meets of the season last year, the Colts pulled out a crushing 9-0 win in its series of matches against rival Sunrise Mountain High School. Surprisingly though, Sunrise Mountain managed to make playoffs over Casteel, kicking them out of the top 12 seedings.

Casteel missed the playoffs by .0163 of a power ranking, leaving them stranded as the 13th seed.

In regards to the playoff rules last year, Casteel girls’ tennis head coach, Angelo Pugnetti, had actually petitioned alongside Liberty High School girls’ tennis head coach for the AIA to force the division winners who are ranked outside the top 16 to have to “play in” instead of automatically qualifying. 

It appears to have passed the stages of approval and is under effect for this current season. 

“My players have worked relentlessly in the offseason to avenge last season,” Pugnetti said. “We are coming into the season learning some new doubles strategies and techniques to win matches we otherwise might not.”

These new strategies could be a game-changer for Pugnetti and her girls this year to push themselves into the playoff picture or even further.

With a team that consists of four underclassmen and only two upperclassmen, a hurdle to get over first though is how the Colts plan on building team chemistry and getting to progress off one another.

“We are a young squad this year with something to prove,” Pugnetti said.

One of the young bucks for the Colts, sophomore Claire Scheerhorn, has shown a hard-working attitude on and off the tennis court.

Her work ethic rubs off on the other younger players, despite being one of the young few in the bunch herself.

“We have to keep a good attitude in the face of adversity and fight hard this season,” Scheerhorn said.

Supporting her team as No. 5 in singles and No. 2 in doubles, Scheerhorn still has a lot of time to improve and work on her craft over the next couple of years.

Almost every team seeks for a leader to rally behind and seek out advice, support, or encouragement from and no one better fits that veteran player role than Colts senior, Claire Caldwell.

Being the team's No. 1 singles and doubles player, she has the whole arsenal to take this young and hungry Colts squad to the next level.

Caldwell quite arguably has the most experience on the team and is surprisingly the only senior on varsity this year.

“with hard work, you can accomplish anything, and that is our goal this season,” Caldwell said.

Although Caldwell and Scheerhorn may share the same first name, they also share the same hunger and desire to get into the playoffs and prove that their training in the offseason was not for nothing.

The first meet of the season was postponed due to a rain delay but another meeting yesterday on Thursday at Gilbert Regional against Dobson sparked the official beginning of a long-awaited season for Pugnetti and the Colts. 

Casteel went on to handle business, beating the Mustangs with a whooping 9-0 victory carried out by a strong singles performance by Caldwell, finishing her set 2-6, 6-4, 10-6, and a strong doubles performance from the sophomore duo, Riley Martinez and Scheerhorn, who worked in sync splendidly to pull out a stunning 8-1 win.

With a demolishing first win to debut the season, it goes to show that this determined team has a lot on their table but nothing to lose.