Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Duncan senior Kaitlyn Lunt attacks the ball for a return against Morenci on March 12. Lunt remained unbeaten through 17 consecutive singles pairings, five this season and 12 in 2019. The host Wildkats split head-to-head pairings with the visiting Wildcats but won the duel 7-2.
By Raymundo Frasquillo
DUNCAN – The Wildkats lost one of their top six players to graduation in 2019, but three of the expected returnees chose to pursue other interests this season.
The Wildkats were third in Division III – Section I standings (7-5 seeding, 7-5 section), behind Thatcher (14-0, 12-0) and Safford (12-3, 9-3), and ahead of Benson (7-7, 6-6), Willcox (6-8, 4-8), Morenci (4-10, 2-10), and Pima (4-10, 2-10). Season marks were 38-34 in singles and 17-19 in doubles, including a forfeit loss both in singles and doubles.
Duncan’s 2020 version returned No. 2 senior Kaitlyn Lunt (12-0 singles, 8-3 doubles) and No. 6 sophomore Ella Jernigan (1-10, 1-10) from last season. The rest of the roster is filled by freshmen.
The Wildkats fell 1-8 at Safford Feb. 26 during week one, 1-8 to Thatcher March 3 and 2-7 to Benson March 5 during week two, and dispatched 3-member Superior 9-0 March 11 and 3-member Morenci 7-2 March 12 during week three.
In head-to-head pairings, the Wildkats (2-3 seeding, 1-3 section) are 6-17 in singles and 3-8 in doubles. Forfeit wins were seven in singles plus four in doubles.
Individually, No. 1 senior Kaitlyn Lunt is 5-0, No. 2 freshman Kaylee Kempton 1-4, No. 3 sophomore Ella Jernigan (0-4), and No. 4 freshman Emily Bocken 0-3, No. 5 freshman Emily Hilton 0-3, No. 6 freshman Janina Schmertmann 0-2, and freshman Emily Shannon 0-1.
In doubles, Lunt – Kempton is 2-2, Hilton – Schmertmann 1-2, Jernigan – Bocken 0-3, and Hilton – Shannon 0-1.
Through the initial three weeks, the Division III – Section I standings were Benson 4-0 in the section and seeding, Thatcher (3-0, 3-0), Safford (5-1, 4-1), Duncan (2-3, 1-3), Morenci (1-3, 1-3), Willcox (1-4, 1-4), and Pima (0-3, 0-3).
In section pairings, Benson topped Willcox 8-1 (Feb. 27), Morenci 5-4 (Feb. 28), Willcox 6-2 (March 3), and Duncan 7-2 (March 5); Thatcher defeated Safford 8-1 (March 2), Duncan 8-1 (March 3), and Willcox 9-0 (March 11); Safford bested Duncan 8-1 (Feb. 27), Morenci 9-0 (March 3), Willcox 9-0 (March 10), Pima 9-0 (March 12), and Miami 9-0 (March 13); Duncan beat Superior 9-0 (March 11) and Morenci 7-2 (March 12); Morenci downed Pima 7-2 (March 5); and Willcox edged Pima 5-4 (March 6). The scheduled Benson – Pima March 13 match was canceled.
The March 16-21 Spring Break had no matches scheduled, but “competition delayed until further notice with the closing of statewide schools (because of global Covid-19 pandemic) until at least April 10, decisions regarding return to play and spring tournaments will not take place until then,” posted Arizona Interscholastic Association Sports Information Coordinator Seth Polansky on March 20.
In the three weeks covered, scheduled matches for March 23-28 were Safford at Benson, Pima at Thatcher, Willcox at Duncan, and Miami at Morenci on March 24; Thatcher at Nogales on March 25; Thatcher at Benson, Duncan at Pima, and Morenci at Willcox on March 26.
March 30 – April 4 has Benson at Tucson’s The Gregory School and Willcox at Saint David on March 30; Duncan at Benson, Pima at Morenci, Thatcher at Safford, and Patagonia at Willcox on March 31; Thatcher at Miami on April 1; Morenci at Safford, Pima at Elfrida Valley Union on April 2; Safford at Duncan and Saint David at Morenci on April 3. Thatcher planned to attend the 2-day Chandler Prep Tourney April 3-4.
During April 6-10, it was Benson at Morenci and Willcox at Pima on April 7; Pima at Benson and Safford at Willcox on April 9; and Pima at Saint David on April 10.
Regular season matches remaining after that closure include Duncan at Morenci, Safford at Pima, Thatcher at Willcox, and Benson at Elfrida Valley Union on April 14; The Gregory School at Thatcher on April 15; Benson at Safford, Duncan at Willcox, and Thatcher at Pima on April 16; Morenci at Thatcher on April 17; and Benson at Thatcher, Pima at Duncan, Willcox at Morenci, and Saint David at Safford on April 21.
State Tournament round one was to start April 29 for team play, with quarterfinals May 6, semifinals May 8 and finals May 9; and individual brackets round one and two on May 1, quarterfinals and semifinals May 2, and finals May 4.
Duncan – 7, Morenci – 2
Three singles and a doubles match were held with Morenci as the visitors brought only three players. The teams split the head-to-head parings, but the hosts received five forfeits to win the duel.
Lunt topped Keanna Cortez (2-2) 8-0 and the Lunt – Kempton duo prevailed 8-5 over Keanna Cortez – Monica Gonzalez (1-0).
For Morenci, Gonzalez (3-1) downed Kempton 8-4 and Kryzzia Cortez (3-1) blanked Jernigan 8-0.
Bocken, Shannon, and Schmertmann along with Bocken – Shannon and Jernigan – Schmertmann each received forfeits.