GIRLS TENNIS: Ironwood Ridge slips past CDO 5-4

March 25, 2016 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

Patricia Bernabe (Andy Morales/

A rivalry in name only, Ironwood Ridge has grown accustomed to beating Canyon del Oro during singles play but the Dorados forced the Nighthawks to doubles where the Nighthawks ultimately pulled out a slim 5-4 win on Thursday.

Ironwood Ridge (2-4) was hit hard by graduation with the loss of state champions Allison Knox and Kelsey Brown coupled with the decision of junior standout Kailyn Teel to sit out this year. It will be very difficult for the Nighthawks to continue their streak of eight straight semifinal appearances including a state championship in 2012.

Meanwhile, Canyon del Oro (2-4) is trying to regain the dominance they once had in the region with six state titles to their history and a runner-up finish in 2007 but the Dorados have not qualified as a team for postseason since 2011.

Ironwood Ridge junior Patricia Bernabe moved from the fourth court last year to the top of the ladder this spring. The pressure to succeed is obvious but Bernabe is ready.

"I've learned to deal with the pressure since I was a freshman," Bernabe explained. "I am comfortable and confident with my responsibility in the top position along with my doubles partner Olivia Manheimer. We have had some success.

"The bottom of our lineup is very young but they are getting better and better," Bernabe added. "We are younger than last year but we are working hard."

Bernabe defeated Lucia Manzano 6-2, 6-2 to get things going but Dorado sophomore Hannah May beat Avaani Bhalla 5-6, 6-1 (10-4) to even out the top two spots. Manzo and May are young in age but also in experience.

Manzo and May picked up the game as freshmen but the duo proved to be natural athletes and they experienced success right away. Immediate success is something Manzo is used to, having moved here from Mexico three years ago speaking almost no English.

"When I moved here I told myself I had to make the most of my time so I threw myself into it," Manzo said. "I tried out for tennis and even signed up for drama class."

Manzo sees a lot of herself in some of her younger teammates because they are also picking up the game as freshmen. "We are having fun and are very serious about it," Manzo added.

"I was a freshman just like them but there will be a huge change next year. We will be much better."

The first MaxPreps/AIA Rankings will be released Friday morning.



Bernabe (IR) over Manzo 6-2, 6-2

May over (CDO) over Bhalla 5-6, 6-1 (10-4)

Manheimer (IR) over Jenny Cox 6-0, 6-1

Ella Wilson (IR) over Julie Danza, 6-1, 6-0

Caleigh Wall (CDO) over Lydia DiPaola 5-6, 6-1 (10-4)

Shayla Vershave (CDO) over Hannah Greene (6-1, 6-4)

Bernabi/Bhalla over May/Manzo, 8-4

Bhalla/Wilson over Cox/Danza, 8-1

Wall/Vershave over DiPaola/Greene, 8-4