With the Sunset Region boys tennis title riding on the outcome of his match and his teammates wildly cheering him on Friday, Bonanza singles player Tommy Lettero said “I felt scared for my life.”
But after outlasting Palo Verde’s Kamau Jackson 7-5 in the final match of a tiebreaker to seal a 10-9 victory for the Bengals, Lettero was having the time of his life.
He was mobbed by his teammates, who let out the loudest of the day’s many roars at Darling Tennis Center to celebrate Bonanza’s improbable championship.
The Bengals’ triumph ended Palo Verde’s 55-match win streak. Bonanza (12-0) also dealt the two-time defending state champion Panthers (13-1) their last loss, in the 2005 state final.
“We waited the whole offseason for this, and we got it — finally,” Lettero said. “They’re a tough team. If they weren’t that good, it wouldn’t have meant as much.”
Bonanza coach Erik Davis said his squad’s sole focus this season was beating Palo Verde.
“They haven’t talked about anything else,” he said of his tight-knit team. “They wanted it more. You could hear them screaming all day. They had something to prove, and they did it tonight.
“Ask each one of these kids what is the greatest day of their lives, and they’ll say today. This is big for them.”
Bonanza, which will advance to next week’s state tournament in Reno, won four of six matches in the tiebreaker — in which each match was played to seven points, win by two.
Along with Lettero, Brendan Aguilar also won in singles in the tiebreaker, overcoming a 3-0 deficit en route to a 7-4 win.
Laurent Gontier and Sean Lettero went 3-0 in doubles for the Bengals and cruised to a 7-3 win in the tiebreaker.
Bonanza’s Aashish Daulat and Nate Tanner also won their tiebreaker, 8-6.
Brandon Parker, Palo Verde’s top singles player, was the only Panther to go 3-0.
Stan Breland, another strong singles player for Palo Verde, played doubles Friday with David Nichols, a two-time doubles state champion.
Bonanza led 4-2 after the first round of play, but Palo Verde won four of six matches in the second round to tie it at 6.
The teams split six matches in the third round, with the Bengals’ No. 3 doubles team of Andrew Whiting and John Grady upending Palo Verde’s top doubles duo of Dillon Berkabile and Joshua Levinson 7-5 to tie the match at 9 and send it to a tiebreaker.
“Bonanza was the better team,” Panthers coach Zach Brandt said. “They played with a lot of heart.”
Coronado 16, Foothill 2 — Brian Foley went 3-0 in singles, and Matthew Dees and Elliott King went 3-0 in doubles as the Cougars (12-2) cruised past the Falcons (10-2) for their third straight Sunrise Region championship.
Matt Gapultos and Marc Feldman each went 2-0 in singles, and Colton Pate and Mitchell Smith went 2-0 in doubles for Coronado, which will advance to next week’s state tournament in Reno.