Clark’s No. 1 singles player, Artem Iermolov, was unavailable for the Desert Region boys tennis championship match against Coronado on Friday afternoon at Liberty.
Turns out the Chargers didn’t need him to beat the Cougars.
Clark, sans Iermolov, held off Coronado for an 11-7 victory and a second consecutive region championship. The Chargers (15-0) will play Mountain Region champion Palo Verde (16-0) on Saturday in the Southern Nevada team championship match.
Coronado (13-2) and Mountain Region runner-up Bonanza will join the two region champions in the Class 4A state tournament.
“We had some guys step up big time,” Clark coach Jordan Zimmel said. “If you can win the region championship without your best player, that’s really good. There are no guarantees. I was really impressed with how we played today.”
Rahul Gupte and Max Foels both went 3-0 in singles for Clark.
“We’re a special group,” Gupte said. “We have a lot of good players. Everyone can play. They’ve been practicing all for this moment. It’s just a great win.”
The Panthers defeated the Chargers in the Class 4A state championship last year, and Clark is eager for a crack at redemption, granted Saturday’s match has no bearing on advancing to the state tournament. The winner will receive a first-round bye in the tournament.
“We felt like we should have probably won last year,” Gupte said. “We have the chance to win again this year. Hopefully we’ll be able to come out on top.”
Palo Verde claims Mountain Region title
Two-time defending state champion Palo Verde added another plaque to its trophy case Friday with an 11-7 victory over Bonanza in the Mountain Region championship match.
Trailing 9-5 in the final round, the Bengals closed the gap to 9-7 before Palo Verde doubles partners Nick Abdo and Kyle Stoddard — who had lost their previous two matches — defeated Bonanza’s Marshall Nelson and Mark Thuet to seal the championship.
“It was definitely a tough fought match today with these guys,” Palo Verde coach Rick Coop said. “Our kids battled back from adversity today and got it all taken care of today.”
Jack Kostrinsky, Michael Andre and defending singles state champion Axel Botticelli each went 2-1 for the Panthers. Blake Kasday went 3-0 in singles for Bonanza, and the doubles team of Manny Gegen and Chase Kasday was 3-0 for the Bengals (15-2).
Palo Verde will compete in the state tournament for the 10th consecutive year, and has won the title or been the state runner-up every year since 2012. With their semifinal win over Faith Lutheran on Thursday, the Bengals earned their first state-tournament berth since 2008.
“We all worked really hard, and we’re trying to get (another) state championship,” Botticelli said. “(Bonanza) has a lot of great players, it’s pretty tough against them. You just have to take care of your own business and worry about your own match.”
Class 3A Southern Region
The doubles teams of Boen Huxford and Preston Jorgensen, and Karson Bailey and Ty Pendleton each went 3-0 to lift host Boulder City to a 13-5 win over The Meadows in the Class 3A Southern Region championship match.
Connor Mikkelson was 2-0 in singles for the Eagles (18-0), who led 10-2 after two rounds en route to capturing their second straight region title. Breton Erlanger and Braden Soileau each went 2-1 in singles for Boulder City.
Payton Buchmiller was 2-1 in singles for The Meadows (9-3).
Both teams advance to the state tournament, which begins Oct. 18 in Truckee, California.