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Palo Verde girls, Centennial boys advance to state tournament

Palo Verde girls tennis coach Jane Centrella needed a couple of minutes Monday to figure out when her team last participated in the state tournament.

The next time that question is asked, the answer should come more easily.

Thanks to a dominating performance by Victoire Saperstein, Tia Okano and Andrea Rathbun in singles on Monday, the Panthers are headed to the state tournament for the first time since 2004.

Palo Verde swept the nine singles sets and beat Liberty 13-5 in the state play-in match at Darling Tennis Center.

The Panthers (13-1) will meet Coronado (13-0) in a semifinal at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Darling. Bishop Gorman (12-1) will face Reno in the other semifinal at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

“This is special,” Centrella said. “They’re just a team. They’ve been practicing hard all year. They’re good kids, and they are fun to be around. It’s amazing to see how much they’ve grown as tennis players.”

Saperstein didn’t drop a game in her three sets. Okano and Rathbun also went 3-0 in singles, and Palo Verde built a 9-3 lead after two rounds.

Megan Randazzo and Sarah Sanders won the clinching 10th point to start the third round. The duo finished 2-1.

Aphrah Brokaw and Kayla Whitney were 3-0 in doubles for Liberty (11-3), and Ashley Wao-Udin and Daysi Zhagui were 2-1 in doubles.

BOYS

Lucas Lee and Travis Beck weren’t about to let a trip to the state tournament get away.

Lee and Beck each won three sets without dropping a game in singles to lead Centennial to a 13-5 win over Green Valley in the play-in match at Darling.

Centennial (11-2) will meet Coronado (13-0) in a semifinal at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Palo Verde (13-0) takes on Reno in the other semifinal at 5:30 p.m.

Brandon Fish and Casey Moses were 3-0 in doubles, and Greg Madsen went 2-1 in singles for the Bulldogs, who last went to state in 2009.

Bryce Klabacka and Connor Opdyke, and Jake Johnson and Parker Phelps went 2-1 in doubles for the Gators (8-3).

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