4A BOYS TENNIS: Palo Verde completes perfect season in win over Reno in state final

RENO — Davis Waid has a simple theory for why he and Brandon Sulzberg were able to finish undefeated as a doubles tandem as seniors for Palo Verde this season.

“I have him as a partner,” Waid said.

Likewise, Sulzberg has a simple theory for why the Panthers are state champions after beating Reno 13-5 in the championship match of the 4A boys state tennis tournament at the Caughlin Athletic Club on Friday morning.

“We have amazing teammates and coaches that got us here,” Sulzberg said. “This is definitely one of the favorite group of guys I’ve ever been with.”

Sulzberg and Waid went 3-0 in doubles, freshman Jack Kostrinsky was 3-0 in singles and the doubles team of Noah Brandt and Hayden Huckfield was 2-0, including a pivotal win in the first round.

Each of the other five first-round matches were already done and members of both teams gathered to watch as Brandt and Huckfield finished off a 7-5 set win over Nick Rinehart and Chase Gonfiantini that gave Palo Verde the 4-2 first round lead coach Zach Brandt was looking for.

“When Noah and Hayden got the fourth point, that was huge for us, because we were all waiting to see if it was going to be 3-3 or 4-2,” Zach Brandt said. “Then everybody felt more confident.”

Palo Verde followed that up by winning the second round, 5-1. Axel Botticelli had a key win, beating Riley Boyden 6-4 after a 6-2 loss to Mikael Tiilikamen in the first round.

“A big turning point was that after Axel lost, he bounced back and beat that real good player,” Zach Brandt said. “That’s real good when you come back and beat a better kid.”

Botticelli and Mike Safbom each went 2-1 in singles as part of a balanced effort in which the Panthers scored seven points in singles and six in doubles.

“Honestly, I’m real stoked to be out here,” Waid said. “It’s a great environment. We just have a great group of guys.”

Brandt said the title match went just like the plan he’d laid out.

“We definitely played as well as we thought we would coming in here,” Zach Brandt said. “It was early and cold and they toughed it out. We lost last year, so it’s nice to get it back this year.”