RENO — It came down to the final point in the final match for the second year in a row, but Palo Verde’s boys tennis team survived.
Axel Botticelli’s tiebreaker win over Clark’s Artem Iermolov allowed Palo Verde to squeak by Clark in a points tiebreaker to clinch a 10-9 victory at Bishop Manogue High and a third consecutive Class 4A state championship.
Clark (17-2) won three and Palo Verde two of the six tiebreaker games with only Botticelli and Iermolov still on the court. Botticelli gutted out a 12-10 win to gain a split of the games. The Panthers (19-0) won the match on points scored in the tiebreaker 38-32.
The Chargers’ only other defeat was against the Panthers in the 4A Southern Nevada championship match, and Friday’s rematch of last year’s state title, also won 10-9 by Palo Verde, turned into another instant classic.
“It felt a lot like last year, except this year it was about 10 times more pressure,” said Botticelli, who was 2-1 in singles. “I really tried to stay smart, breathe and just play my game.”
Michael Andre went 3-0 in singles, and Jack Kostrinsky went 2-1 for the Panthers.
“This victory today obviously shows that Palo Verde is the dominant program in the state of Nevada,” Andre said. “We’re on top right now, and there’s nowhere to go but down, so we have to make sure to keep our game up.”
Coronado girls repeat
Coronado’s girls tennis team left no doubt about its place as Nevada’s top team Friday, rolling to its second consecutive Class 4A state title with a 15-3 win over Palo Verde in the championship match at Bishop Manogue.
Blythe Buntrock and Kennedy Buntrock each went 3-0 in singles, and Madison Smith was 2-0 as the Cougars swept the nine singles sets.
Coronado had five players this season who were not part of the 2017 championship team.
“To stay undefeated for two straight years and to come back and defend the title is so tough,” coach David Willingham said. “But we had some good newcomers and veterans playing, so it was a great combination moving forward.”
Blythe Buntrock was one of those newcomers.
“This was my first year playing high school tennis, so it’s been a really good experience winning all together,” she said. “Knowing that everyone pitched in for it, it’s the coolest.”