Palo Verde wasn’t able to put its top two players on display Tuesday.
Instead, the Panthers trotted out an impressive array of depth and talent.
Missing seniors and state qualifiers Brandon Parker and Stan Breland from its lineup, Palo Verde still routed host Green Valley 16-2 in a season-opening boys tennis match.
“Our strength is how deep these guys are,” Palo Verde coach Zach Brandt said. “They all play tournaments. They’re dedicated for these 10 or 11 weeks to high school tennis. They could just as easily only play tournaments.”
The two-time defending state champion Panthers are the favorite to add a third straight crown.
It’s not hard to see why. When Parker and Breland return, the team might be unbeatable.
Parker hasn’t yet participated in the 10 practices mandated by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. He’s a two-time state doubles champion and played in the singles quarterfinals last year.
Breland, a state singles champion two years ago at Canyon Springs, moved into Palo Verde’s zone before the school year, but questions about his eligibility arose just prior to the start of the match.
Without that duo, Palo still swept the nine singles sets, losing a total of only nine games.
“We’re just lucky to have so many good players in one area,” Palo Verde senior David Nichols said. “We all play together. We all play tournaments. We’re just lucky to have so many experienced players.”
Fernando Sunago, Jon Row and Joey Stackhouse each won twice. Sunago didn’t drop a game in his two sets.
Nichols and Kamau Jackson went 3-0 at No. 1 doubles for the Panthers. Nichols, twice a state champion in doubles when he paired with Parker, is playing with his third partner in as many years.
“We have faith in each other,” Nichols said. “You can’t have a doubles team without having faith and trust in each other. If I miss a shot, I always believe that he’s going to make his.”
Green Valley’s Evan Song, the defending state champion in singles, played two matches at No. 3 doubles Tuesday as he nurses a back injury.