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STATE DOUBLES: Mission accomplished for Santero twins

One brief, simple hug erased three years of heartbreak for twin sisters Nicole and Kristen Santero on Saturday.
The Silverado seniors, who made their fourth trip to the girls doubles state championship match, finally got the win they desperately wanted.
The Santeros rallied from an early deficit to defeat Liberty’s Valerie Nesenhoener and Ashley Wao-Udin 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 at Darling Tennis Center and claim their first state title.
“I’m about to cry,” Nicole Santero said. “I can’t even explain this. We always felt like it would happen, and it finally did.”
The Sunrise Region champions had been snakebitten in their previous three trips to the finals, losing to a different team each year, and early in Saturday’s final, it appeared that the opportunity to finally win might again slip away.
The No. 3 seeds from the Sunrise Region, Nesenhoener and Wao-Udin dictated play in the opening set en route to taking the lead.
“We just had to pump ourselves up more after the first set,” Kristen Santero said.
The Santeros rebounded to claim the second set and took a 4-1 lead in the third.
The teams exchanged games, with Kristen Santero holding her serve for a 5-2 lead. An unforced error on an approach shot by the Liberty team gave the Santeros a match point on Liberty’s serve.
When a double fault ended the match, the sisters briefly hugged and smiled. Mission accomplished.
“They were definitely focused,” said Silverado coach Mark Parantala. “It’s nice for them to cap their career with a state title. Liberty played so well. They’re hard to beat.”
Palo Verde’s Dillon Casey and Zach Bellon added a boys doubles title to the team title they helped the Panthers win on Friday, beating Coronado’s Marc Feldman and Michael Seitz 6-3, 6-2 in the final.
“Two rings, baby, that’s what it means,” said Casey, a senior.
Casey and Bellon, a junior, played together the entire season, developing chemistry on the court.
“We just stay together as a team on the court,” Bellon said.

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