4A TENNIS: Sunset Region sweeps state titles in Reno

RENO – Audrey Boch-Collins is used to winning tournaments on the national circuit, but the Clark freshman had to admit that winning a high school state championship was a little more special.

Boch-Collins defeated Averiana Mitchell of Durango 6-2, 6-0 in the Class 4A girls singles state championship match Saturday afternoon at the Caughlin Athletic Club.

“Coming here I felt confident from winning past tournaments, but it’s much more exciting to win this,” she said. “I feel proud of myself that I could come out here and do this for my team, for Clark.”

Boch-Collins breezed through three matches in the two-day tournament, beating Nikoletta Nikoloff of Coronado in the quarterfinals Friday night and then Hannah Grossman of Coronado in the semifinals Saturday morning.

Boch-Collins met Mitchell in a rematch of their region final, and, Boch-Collins said after being nervous in the first two rounds, she was much more relaxed in the final, having beaten Mitchell twice this season.

“When I play relaxed I tend to play a lot better,” she said.

Boch-Collins’ match with Mitchell was the first championship match to finish, starting a Sunset Region sweep. Ben Gajardo of Desert Oasis won the boys singles title, Mike Safbom and Brandon Sulzberg of Palo Verde won the boys doubles championship, and Emma Figuerdo and Angelique Friedrich of Bishop Gorman came from behind to win the girls doubles crown.

“I’m just super proud of everybody from our division,” Palo Verde coach Zach Brandt said. “The Sunset Division definitely represented big-time.”

Boys singles

Gajardo earned the boys singles title with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Michael Pasimio of Clark, the state Division I-A champion last season.

“He’s a good friend of mine, and I’m glad to finish my senior year playing against this guy,” Gajardo said. “It was tough so he definitely pushed me.”

After winning a state title as a sophomore, Gajardo lost in the semifinals last year.

“That definitely made me strive to keep training and get better,” Gajardo said. “I felt like I had to go to state and do well up here.”

Boys doubles

Safbom and Sulzberg couldn’t be any less alike in personality. But their similarities on the tennis court make for a strong pairing.

Safbom and Sulzberg defeated Marcus Pasimio and Simran Shah of Clark 6-3, 6-4 to win the doubles title, in a rematch of last week’s Sunset Region championship match.

A senior, Sulzberg said the win was a perfect way to cap the weekend in which he and Safbom played key roles in Palo Verde’s team championship.

“I’m super happy, this is the way I wanted to go out,” Sulzberg said. “We beat them in Vegas and we were happy to get to play them again.”

Countering Sulzberg’s effervescence, the more sardonic Safbom used deadpan humor to answer post-match questions.

“I win all the time, this is just another win for me,” he said.

As a sophomore, Safbom said more championships are in his future.

“Absolutely, I didn’t need (Sulzberg),” he joked.

Girls doubles

The other championship matches had already completed by the time Figueredo and Friedrich took the court against Parker and Payton Burk of Liberty, and they promptly lost the first set, before rebounding, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

“We’re kind of shocked,” Friedrich said. “We did not expect that.”

The other medalists had already collected their hardware and cleared out by the time Figuerdo and Friedrich broke serve with the third set tied 4-4, then finished it off by winning several volleys at the net.

“I don’t really remember anything,” Figuerdo said “After that rough start, we had to poke each other along. It was very stressful.”

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