Most tennis coaches wouldn’t drastically change their lineups before heading into a state semifinal match against an unknown opponent.
But that’s exactly what Boulder City coach Rachelle Huxford did on Thursday.
And her bold decisions paid off.
Using two irregular doubles teams and a first-time singles player, the Eagles defeated South Tahoe 12-6 in a Class 3A boys state semifinal at Reno Tennis Center.
“I’m not sure what I’ll play tomorrow,” Huxford said, laughing.
Boulder City (13-1) will meet The Meadows (17-1) — a 13-5 winner over Truckee in the other semifinal — for the state championship at 9 a.m. Friday at Tahoe Donner Tennis Center in Truckee, California.
The Eagles, who lost to The Meadows 11-7 in the Southern Region final on Oct. 5, will be seeking their first state title since 1977.
“Just being here at state with these boys already has been an incredible experience,” Huxford said. “It was our goal at the beginning of the year, and obviously now it’s to beat The Meadows. To break such a long-standing absence in state tennis, I don’t know if I have the words to explain how exciting that is.”
Freshman Preston Jorgensen, who hadn’t played a singles match all year, went 2-0 in singles for the Eagles, as did the doubles team of Sam O’Berto and Garrett Leavitt. Clayton Pendleton and Boen Huxford also went 2-1 in doubles for Boulder City.
“We had some good things happen today,” Rachelle Huxford said. “I was really proud of the kids. We changed two doubles teams up and that’s tough to do in a high-pressure situation. We’ve kind of been this underdog all year, so it’s just great to see. They’ve worked so hard.”
Andre Pappas went 3-0 in singles to again lead the way for Boulder City. The junior cruised to easy wins in the first two rounds before defeating Hawley Jarrett, 7-6 in a tiebreaker in the final round.
“He has performed well all season,” Rachelle Huxford said. “He’s been there the whole time. … I just need him to figure out how to beat (The Meadows’) Nate van der Post. He’s the only one who has gotten a set on him this year — in individual and team play.”
In the other semifinal, van der Post and teammates Daniel Pereira and Ethan Lee each went 2-1 in singles for The Meadows.
The doubles team of Edward Rastgoo and Justin Finseth went 3-0 for the Mustangs. Brian Capp and Ryan Chang, and Ahmed Nadeem-Tariq and Peyton Sachs each finished 2-1 in doubles.
Desert Pines had never reached the state tournament in boys or girls tennis since opening in 1999.
The Jaguars girls, though, performed like veterans Thursday.
Cassandra Bueno and Veronica Palacios each went 3-0 in singles to lead Desert Pines to an 11-7 win over Churchill County in a Class 3A state semifinal at Reno Tennis Center.
Desert Pines (17-5) will face The Meadows (16-2) in the state final at noon Friday at Tahoe Donner Tennis Center.
The doubles team of Shelly Alvarado and Yazaret Arredondo also finished 3-0 for Desert Pines, and teammate Midori Harper went 2-1 in singles.
The Meadows, which defeated the Jaguars 16-2 in the Southern Region final on Oct. 5, will be making its fifth consecutive state final appearance.
The Mustangs have won three of the last four state titles, including last season. They advanced with a 12-0 win over Truckee in the other semifinal.
Each player in the Thge Meadows’ lineup went 2-0 in their set position before a mutual agreement by coaches stopped the match after two rounds.
Anuja Daulat, Abbigail Klein and Olivia Waysack were 2-0 in singles for The Meadows.
The teams of Sophie Isaacs and Grace Nemec, Jessica Lelah and Caroline Liu, and Peyton Barcel and Sara Blenkiron each finished 2-0 in doubles.