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15 West Valley View, Avondale, Arizona, Friday, April 6, 2012

View photo by Ray Thomas

YOUNGKER’S COLTON PAUL returns a shot against Desert Edge Tuesday. Paul and Travis Ostahowski have been flip-flopping as the Rough Riders No.1 and

2 players all season. The boys team has already clinched its first winning season and is on pace to make its initial state team tournament appearance.

Youngker boys having successful year

by Casey Pritchard assistant sports editor

Youngker is approaching uncharted territory in boys tennis.

The Rough Riders are 8-2 this season and in the top 16 of the Division II power rankings. They’ve already secured the school’s first winning season, and it has them in position to make the state playoffs for the first time.


“I’m really impressed as a coach,” coach Luke Larm said. “I hoped for an over .500 record and the boys are really bringing it for me. I’m really impressed.” Youngker’s latest victory was a 7-2 triumph over Desert Edge on Monday. The Rough Riders have eight athletes who have seen varsity time, including a pair of players who are switching back and forth between Nos. 1 and 2. Those are Colton Paul and Travis Ostahowski.

they’re both solid, both consistent, and this way they can see a more challenging guy on each team,” Larm said. “That way I can see what the order is going to be if we make it to the next level.” Paul’s strength is that he never gives up, while Ostahowski’s strength is he has a knack for always getting the ball in the court, Larm said. Where Larm’s team really shines is its

“Both of them are pretty equal players,

thought I’d have to go through this many, but my 5 switches to 3 and my 4 goes to 6. It’s all over the place so it’s been fun. It’s a good problem to deal with.” Currently at No. 3 is Jorge Berber, while No. 4 is Victor Seca-Diaz. No. 5 is Tanner Gebbs, while Steven Garner and Dustin Welch have switched off at No. 6 of late.

depth. The Nos. 3 through 7 players are all very equal in skill. “I actually have seven guys, so it’s been tough because I have to switch my 7, 6 and 5 all the time,” Larm said. He does that with daily evaluations of their matches, as well as having them play challenge matches against each other in practice.

“I just check them out, where their comfortability level is, which one can get the big wins, which ones can’t get the big wins, so I move them around,” Larm said. “We’ve had plenty of challenge matches. I’ve had so many switches on challenge matches it’s been ridiculous. I never

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Doubles pairings Jordan Schulze doesn’t play singles, but has been an integral part of doubles. He and Ostahowski combine for the No. 3 doubles tandem. “They just have the ability to win,” Larm said. “It’s fun to see other teams have to see a 6-[foot]-5 guy [Schulze] because he’s the tallest they’ve had to play against yet. We’ll see if that changes in state, but he’s the tallest I’ve seen. Trying to get the ball over him is pretty tough.” Paul and Seca-Diaz play as the No. 1 doubles team, while Welch and Garner are No. 2. Youngker’s impressive record has been

keyed by a pair of uplifting victories, as the Rough Riders twice beat Agua Fria

this year by a 5-4 score. “Both of them came down to third-set tiebreakers to Jorge Berber and he won both of them,” Larm said. “If it doesn’t come down to those two matches we’d be ranked a lot lower, but right now we’re ranked in the top 16 because of that guy right there.” Youngker was scheduled to play at

Laveen Betty Fairfax Thursday. The result was unavailable at press time. On April 12, the Rough Riders face Verrado. As of Wednesday, those opponents were ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in power points, and neither has lost a match all year.

“The focus is trying to make state, but also show up to Betty Fairfax and Verrado and give them a run for their money if we can,” Larm said. “Those two will definitely put us over the top and make sure we make state, but right now we’re just glad about our winning record being 8-2. It’s definitely a nice feeling.

Casey Pritchard can be reached by email at

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