BOYS STATE: Coronado edges Centennial, advances to title match


Coronado’s boys tennis team has seen plenty of pressure situations every day in practice.

So a 9-9 tie with Centennial in the Class 4A state semifinals was no problem.

Kai Carl and Bryden Baxter were 3-0 in doubles play, and the Cougars swept all three doubles sets of the tiebreaker, in a 10-9 win Thursday at Darling Tennis Center that advanced the Cougars to Friday’s state title match.

“I just try to put pressure on them in practice so they play loose in a match,” Coronado coach Luther Bohanan said. “And that’s what they did in the tiebreaker: They played well under pressure.”

Coronado (14-0) will face Reno in the title match at noon Friday.

All three of Coronado’s doubles teams won 7-5 in the extra session, and Dylan Ihmels added a 7-4 singles win to lift the Cougars to a 4-2 win in the tiebreaker.

Even Patrick Crockett and Sebastian Sandqvist, who finished 1-2, posted a 7-5 win over Centennial’s Dallan Johnson and Dakota Trombley after losing 6-2 to the Bulldogs duo in the first round.

“(Centennial) had really good singles players, so we knew we had to take the pressure off,” Carl said. “The doubles needed to step up and bring it home. I’m just happy we won.”

Travis Beck and Lucas Lee each finished 3-0 in singles for Centennial.

The Bulldogs aggressively worked the net on every point, but the result led to a mixed bag of clutch points and unforced errors. Coronado, meanwhile, rarely strayed far from the service line, instead sitting back and hitting ground strokes.

“We just try to work our way into each point and not give away any points,” Baxter said. “Double faults and unforced errors lose you matches. As long as we make them play, we can beat them.”

Carl and Baxter’s unbeaten record motivated the doubles teams, as Crockett and Sandqvist jumped to a 4-1 lead in their tiebreaker set. “We just wanted to stay consistent and lead by example,” Baxter said. “We wanted to show that the teams were all beatable.”

Reno 10, Palo Verde 8 — Nick Sexton and Kenny Stark were each 2-1 in singles to help the Huskies halt the two-time defending state champion Panthers’ 45-match winning streak.

Zack Surmacz was 3-0 for Palo Verde (13-1), which last lost in the 2008 Sunset Region finals, to Bonanza, snapping a 55-match winning streak.

The doubles teams of Chris Sexton and Mahesh Challapalli, and Luke Smith and Kevin Pikero were each 2-1 for the Huskies, who hadn’t won a state tournament match since 1999.

Tanner Berkabile and Pascal Nilsson were 3-0 in doubles for Palo Verde.

Coronado 10, Centennial 9
Highlights—Cen: Lucas Lee 3-0 singles; Travis Beck 3-0 singles. Cor: Kai Carl and Bryden Baxter 3-0 doubles; Stephen Boyd and Patricio Sanchez 2-1 doubles.

Reno 10, Palo Verde 8
Highlights—Ren: Nick Sexton 2-1 singles; Kenny Stark 2-1 singles; Luke Smith and Kevin Pikero 2-1 doubles; Chris Sexton and Mahesh Challapalli 2-1 doubles. Pal: Zach Surmacz 3-0 singles; Tanner Berkabile and Pascal Nilsson 3-0 doubles.