The Northern Division I-A champion Truckee boys tennis team finally met its match. All it took was a school nearly five times its size.
The top-seeded Wolverines defeated Faith Lutheran in the semifinal round of the Division I-A state championship at the Darling Center in Las Vegas on Thursday. That set up a championship clash Friday between Truckee and Clark, a school of more than 3,000 students and with a team of 68 players.
Clark took the title by a 12-6 score, giving Truckee a runner-up finish for the second straight year.
“We couldn’t be more proud of how the team performed this weekend, with individuals playing their best tennis of the year,” Truckee coach Rick Deeter said.
The Wolverines were not done. After the team competition, Truckee’s regional champion doubles team of Teagan Pado and Colin Gerrard fought through the state bracket before finally losing in the final against Clark. Truckee’s No. 2 doubles team, meanwhile, Aaron Deeter and Ethan Gotts, finished third.
As the No. 1 seed from the North, the Wolverines squared off against No. 2 Southern seed Faith Lutheran in the team semifinal on Thursday.
The Crusaders had advanced on the strength of their singles, meaning the battle would be decided on the doubles court. Truckee was anxious but on fire after dominating the regional tournament at the Tahoe Donner Tennis Center the week prior.
Truckee’s top doubles seed, Gerrard and Pado, won their first match 6-1, while the No. 2 seed of Deeter and Gotts won 6-0.
In team tennis, it often comes down to how the No. 3 seed performs, and Truckee’s Eli Yale and Brandon Flora pulled off a solid 6-3 win. Add that Nico Gardella and Toby Ziegler also were victorious, 6-3 and 6-0, respectively, Truckee was up 5 sets to 1 after the first round.
The doubles teams stayed hot, sweeping the second round.
Gardella won 6-2, while Toby Ziegler fell to Faith Lutheran’s top seed, 4-6, in a close match. Zach Yamauchi faced the No. 2 seed, falling 0-2, but Truckee was up 9 sets to 3, only needing to add one more to secure a victory. That they did, and then some, as the Wolverines won 5 of the final 6 sets — Gerrard/Pado won 6-2, Deeter/Gotts 6-2, and Yale/Flora 6-1. Ziegler finished strong up 6-2. Colter Fellows won his set 6-0, sealing the deal on a 14-4 semifinal victory.
That earned the Wolverines a date in the final with defending state champion Clark, whose top two singles seeds are top players in the state and gave up only one game in the six sets through three rounds.
Ziegler and Gardella managed to beat the Chargers’ No. 3 seed. Truckee did well in doubles, with Gerrard and Pado giving up just a break to fall 4-6 to Clark’s No. 1, before sweeping their other two sets.
Deeter and Gotts did the same, adding two more to Truckee’s total. Yale and Flora had a battle in the first round against Clark’s No. 3, but they dropped a break to go down 5-7. Kevin Cross and Colin Deurlington went in against the top seed, but came up short, 2-6, as the Wolverines fell by a 12-6 final.
The individuals competition began later the same day, testing the players’ endurance.
Gardella was the No. 2 seed from the North and Toby Ziegler the No. 3. Unfortunately, both faced tough opponents from the South and were eliminated in the quarterfinal round.
In doubles, Deeter and Gotts advanced through the quarterfinals after beating Cheyenne 4-6, 6-2, 6-0. Gerrard and Pado started out strong, taking their first set 6-0, but the Clark No. 3 seed came alive and fought back. Truckee took the second set in the tiebreaker to advance to the semis on Friday.
Deeter and Gotts faced the top seed from the South, which consisted of Clark’s No. 2 singles player teamed up with one of its No. 1 doubles players. Truckee fell 2-6, 1-6, but proceeded to take out the No. 2 team from Clark to secure third place.
Gerrard and Pado trounced the Clark No. 2 in the semis, 6-0, 6-1, to move on to the finals at Bishop Gorman High School on Saturday. The match pitted the top seeds from the North and South in a battle with few unforced errors and some spectacular plays. But in the end Clark’s Chaitanya Ingle and Deric Pang defeated Gerrard and Pado 6-4, 6-1 for the title.
The results marked the second consecutive year that the Truckee boys finished second as a team while also placing second and third in doubles.