Breland caps dominant run with state girls singles title

Rebecca Breland didn’t just wonder if she’d get a chance to join her niece and nephew on the list of state tennis champions.

The Canyon Springs sophomore simply wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

Breland capped one of the more dominant runs the Nevada girls singles tournament has seen, defeating Bishop Gorman’s Sarah Toti 6-2, 6-4 in the title match Saturday at Carson High School.

Gorman’s Anita Lee and Sarah Bessen won the girls doubles title, beating Silverado’s Kristen Santero and Nicole Santero, 6-0, 7-6(5).

In five matches in the Sunrise Region tournament and three at the state tournament, Breland won 96 games.

Her opponents won a total of seven, including six by Toti on Saturday.

“My dream was for her to win a state title,” Canyon Springs coach Cheryl Dameron said. “I didn’t dream she’d only give up seven games. To dominate like this is unbelievable.”

Breland, whose niece Candyce Boney and nephew Stan Breland were state singles champions in 2006, won six consecutive matches by 6-0, 6-0 counts before surrendering one game to Green Valley’s Jessica Hsu in the semifinals.

“It feels good to finally be a part of that group,” Breland said. “I just stayed focused and kept the ball in play.”

Breland finished fourth in the Sunrise Region tournament last year but made drastic improvements this year.

“Her serve, her forehand, her footwork and her persistence have all improved,” Dameron said. “But she has the confidence now, and that’s the difference.”

Toti, who injured a stomach muscle in her quarterfinal win Friday, had steamrolled through the tournament, too, but couldn’t keep up with Breland on Saturday.

“You have to be in great shape to have a chance to beat Rebecca,” Gorman coach Gordon Hammond said. “Rebecca played tough. Sarah was either going to have to take it from her or lose. Rebecca wasn’t going to give it away.”

Toti, also a sophomore, finished second in the state for the second straight year.

“It giver her a reason to come back and try again next year,” Hammond said.

Lee became the first girl in the history of the tournament to win a state doubles title the year after winning the state singles crown.

She and Bessen, usually singles players for the Gaels, teamed for the victory.

“They’re just very good players,” Hammond said. “When you have really good players, you can put anybody together for doubles.”

Lee and Bessen breezed through the first set but didn’t play as well in the second set as they stole glances at Toti’s match on a neighboring court.

“They lost focus a little bit because it was tough watching Sarah lose,” Hammond said. “It was kind of a quiet ending.”

Toti, Lee and Bessen, all underclassmen, are a huge reason why Gorman won its fourth straight girls team title Friday. The three are almost automatic in most matches.

“Our girls are stronger ralliers,” Hammond said. “They played well today.”

The Santero sisters took second in the state for the third straight year.

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