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DIVISION I BOYS: Vances, Cohen help Cougars outlast Palo Verde for first crown

RENO — Jack Vance and Jamie Vance weren’t counted on to be heroes Friday.

The Coronado freshmen brothers were expected to get a point or two and hopefully help their teammates finally get over the hump in the boys state tennis tournament.

They did much, much more.

The Vances swept their three doubles matches and won their tiebreaker game in the extra round to help the Cougars to a 10-9 win over Palo Verde in the Division I final at Caughlin Athletic Club.

“They played tremendously well under pressure, and that’s a lot to be under for a couple of freshmen,” said Coronado coach Luther Bohanan, whose team won four of six tiebreakers to secure the crown. “To be honest, I expected them to win two, but for them to do a clean sweep was awesome.

“If they hadn’t won four, we probably wouldn’t be state champions.”

Coronado (15-0), which also got a strong effort from junior Sam Cohen in singles, snapped a streak of four straight losses in state championship matches. Coronado had been in the finals five of the last six years and came away empty.

Cohen’s tiebreaker against Palo Verde’s Ozzy Abraham was the final one to finish with a crowd of more than 100 people surrounding the court, waiting for a celebration to start.

“I told Sam, ‘You have to drown out all the noise and when you’re out there, you have to just play it point by point. It’s just about you and the ball, everything else you just tune out, ” Bohanan said. “And that’s what he did.

“Between Sam and my two freshmen boys, what can I say? They carried the team today.”

Cohen, who won his first two sets before falling to Trevor Johnson, 7-5 in the third round, rebounded on a pair of bloody legs and sore arms to secure a 9-7 victory.

“It was crazy man. It’s the biggest adrenaline rush ever because you want to do well so badly, but the other guy is squeezing out every ounce of energy he has to try to take it from you,” Cohen said.

Cohen nearly didn’t play high school tennis this year due to a sprained muscle in his right hand.

“It’s interesting I’ve come this far after that,” he said. “I was at the lowest of the low confidence-wise, and I watched guys playing and I was like, “Jeez, they look great, and here I am on the sidelines.’

“It was tough, I was out for quite some time and I’m still not 100 percent, but it’s good enough so it worked out in the end.”

Appropriately, when Cohen finished off his tiebreaker win, the Vance brothers were the first to rush the court.

“I was freaking out when Sam pulled it out. It was just the most amazing feeling,” Jamie Vance said. “My throat hurts from cheering so loud because we were just going crazy, and it was just so fun and such a great experience for us to come up here and win.

“It’s a dream come true. It’s amazing.”

Ryland McDermott and Sam Grant went 2-1 in doubles for Coronado.

Johnson went 3-0 in singles to lead Palo Verde (15-1).

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