RENO — With six state championships, Palo Verde coach Zach Brandt ranks first among all of Nevada’s boys tennis coaches.
But even Brandt hasn’t often seen the likes of what his team accomplished Thursday at Caughlin Athletic Club.
Palo Verde swept all three rounds to beat Damonte Ranch 18-0 and advance to Friday’s Class 4A state championship match against Reno, an uncommon level of domination in a state tournament setting.
“It is rare to get a shutout here,” Brandt said. “I think the boys just overall played real solid tennis. They served well, volleyed well and controlled the net.”
The Panthers (17-0) were dominant right from the start. Tim Zagar was the only Damonte Ranch player to take a game in the first round, but he lost 7-6 to Jack Kastrinsky. Zagar was forced to retire with an injury, and defaulted his last two matches.
“I thought he was a real good tennis player, and our other two singles players were looking forward to playing him,” Brandt said.
Brandt said the first round may have taken some of the steam out of the Damonte Ranch players.
“We’re fast starters anyway,” he said. “We come out of the gate really hard and try to go up 4-2 or 5-1.”
In the championship match, Palo Verde will face Reno (16-0), which defeated Coronado 10-8 in the first semifinal match.
Reno swept the first round 6-0 and took the second 4-2 to clinch the victory with a 10-2 lead after two rounds.
“We got off to a really slow start,” Coronado coach Luther Bohanan said. “Balls were flying out and they just didn’t make adjustments very well. When you play at altitude the ball flies through the air, and you have to make sure you hit with more topspin.”
Only two of the first-round sets were close, with Martin Rizov losing to Reno’s Michael Tiilikainen 7-5 and the Cougars’ doubles team of Sebastian Frace and Ethan Quandt falling to Nick Rinehart and Chase Gonfiantini, 7-6.
“We got up early and that’s it,” Reno coach Craig Gorbach said. “It’s the best we’ve done in the 16 years I’ve been coaching. Even the year we won, we didn’t have that much depth in our lineup.”
In the second round, Coronado (16-2) got wins from singles player Kaloyan Monchilov and in doubles from Frace and Quandt.
“We did better in the second round, but by then the match was over,” Bohanan said.
Reno subbed out all six players in the third round, and Coronado swept the six sets.
A major question coming into the tournament was whether the delays in the Northern Region tournament, which were played Monday through Wednesday, would have Reno players in rhythm or fatigued.
“I thought honestly fatigue because we had some tough matches (Wednesday),” Gorbach said.
Fatigue didn’t seem to be a problem, as it was Coronado that made more mistakes.
“They kept the ball in play and we made all the unforced errors,” Bohanan said. “I like to make the other team make all the errors, and this year, we beat ourselves.”