Song soars to top of the state charts

Evan Song’s stay at the state tennis tournament figured to be a quick one.

It’s a good thing no one told the Green Valley sophomore that.

Song made short work of all three regional champions in stunning the boys singles field to win a state title Saturday at the Darling Tennis Center.

Song shocked defending state champion Stan Breland of Canyon Springs 6-1, 6-3 in the final.

“I was really just trying to stay in the zone,” Song said. “I was the underdog. That’s what made me play so well.”

Bishop Gorman’s Anita Lee won the girls singles title. Aashish Daulat and Andrew Whiting of Bonanza took the boys doubles crown. Iesha James and younger sister Natasha James of Clark secured the girls doubles crown.

Song’s title, though, was the most shocking.

After defeating Sunset Region champion Brandon Parker of Palo Verde in Friday’s quarterfinals, Song breezed past Northern champion Jeff Mullen of Reno 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals Saturday morning.

Against Breland, who beat Song in a three-set match in the Sunrise semifinals, Song fought off three game points in the opening game of the match and broke Breland. He won 11 of the first 12 games of the match to take a 6-1, 5-0 lead.

Song was confident and countered Breland’s hard-charging style with a beautiful display of passing shots.

“The last week, all I have been doing is passing shots,” Song said. “I’ve been practicing every day.”

Lee became the first girls singles player from a championship to win an individual title in the same year since Coronado’s Dominique Aubry in 2003. Gorman’s girls won their third straight team championship Friday.

In the first matchup of teammates in a girls singles final since 2001, the sophomore fell behind Bishop Gorman freshman Sarah Toti 4-1 in the first set before winning six of the next seven games. Lee posted a 7-5, 7-6 (3) victory.

“I wanted this bad,” Lee said. “Whatever happens on the court stays on the court, but I really had to turn my game on. I just started playing my game.”

Toti led 5-4 in the second set and served to force a third set, but Lee broke serve, evening the set at 5-5. Both players held serve to force the tie-breaker, in which Lee built a 5-2 lead and cruised.

“At least we know we both represented our school well and we had a good match,” Toti said. “She played well. She did a good job of staying in a lot of points.”

In boys doubles, Daulat and Whiting made their third time in the tournament a charm, downing Galena’s Collin Davis and Gavin Deller 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match.

“We lost to the eventual champs our first two years,” Daulat said. “This year we wanted to finish it off.”

Both players’ older brothers were state singles champions — Rishi Daulat in 2004 and Lenny Whiting in 2005.

“Both of our brothers got state titles,” Andrew Whiting said. “It was definitely our turn.”

In girls doubles, the James sisters completed their dream of winning a crown together. Iesha James, a senior, was a runner-up in doubles as a freshman. Natasha is a freshman.

The two defeated Silverado sophomores Nicole Santero and Kristen Santero, 6-4, 6-3.

“This is the best we’ve ever accomplished,” Iesha James said.

The siblings began playing tennis at age 4.

“It’s nice to see all of our hard work pay off,” Natasha James said.

The Santero sisters were the state runners-up last year.

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