BOYS REGIONALS: ‘Unified’ Palo Verde tops Centennial

Respect the past. Represent the future.
That was the slogan emblazoned on the T-shirt worn Friday by Palo Verde boys tennis coach Zach Brandt, who guided the Panthers to state titles in 2006 and 2007.
The shirt is a couple of years old, but the phrase fits perfectly with this season’s Palo Verde squad, which captured the Sunset Region crown despite returning only two starters from last year.
One of those returnees, Fernando Sunago, went 3-0 in singles to help the Panthers to a 12-6 triumph over Centennial at Darling Tennis Center.
“It was definitely a great win,” Brandt said. “We weren’t expecting it from the beginning of the season, but toward the end we started playing good and thought we had a chance to win.
“It was nice to get here and get it done.”
Ozzy Abraham went 2-1 in singles for the Panthers, who improved to 14-0, and the doubles teams of Zach Bellon and Dillon Casey and Christian Clark and Jeremy Mann each went 3-0.
“Our doubles are way better than other teams’,” said Sunago, who is undefeated in singles this year.
Brandt said a key to the Panthers’ success has been strong team unity.
“The guys are really close. They’re a really unified group, and they all get along real well,” he said. “They work together and challenge each other pretty hard at practice.”
J.C. Pauli went 2-1 for the Bulldogs (11-3), who will face Sunrise Region runner-up Foothill on Oct. 19 at Darling in a match to determine the third team from Southern Nevada to advance to state.

Coronado 15, Foothill 3 — Mitchell Smith didn’t lose a game while going 3-0 in singles, and Matthew Dees and Bryden Baxter also each went 3-0 for the Cougars, who cruised to their fourth straight Sunrise Region championship under coach Luther Bohanan.
Marc Feldman and Michael Seitz went 3-0 in doubles for Coronado (14-0).
“We’ve won a lot of region championships, so we’ve got to keep up the tradition,” said Feldman, one of three Cougars seniors, along with Seitz and  Justen English, hoping to close their prep careers with a state title.
“My seniors want to win badly,” said Bohanan, who guided Green Valley to a state championship in 1999. “That’s what they’re trying to do.”
English teamed with Xavier Smith to go 2-1 in doubles for Coronado, and Kevin Dion and Dylan Hansel went 2-1 in doubles for Foothill (12-3).
The Cougars, who lost to Bonanza in last year’s state title match, and Palo Verde advance to the state semifinals, scheduled for Oct. 22 at Darling.