Roberts joins rare company with third-place state finish
By Jeremy Evans
Tribune staff writer
Jimmy Roberts entered the state tournament realizing he had a difficult road to the championship. Despite being the Northern 4A’s top seed – South Tahoe’s first regional champion since 1995 – Roberts was grouped in a bracket that included sophomore Stan Breland, the Sunrise Region champion who’s ranked among the top 60 players in the nation.
Roberts’ realization came true but not before he ended his ride with a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 victory over Sunset Region champion Rony Yeghnazary of Palo Verde in the third-place match at the NIAA 4A Nevada State Tennis Championships on Saturday at the Reno Tennis Center.
Roberts becomes the first STHS player since Ryan Roslansky to place at the state tournament. Roslansky, who also was a regional champion, lost in the state finals in 1995 to Green Valley’s Jeff Harbach.
“I don’t think I could’ve done any better,” Roberts said. “I am happy with how I played. I just tried to stay mentally stable, not getting too up or down.”
Roberts beat The Meadows’ Jimmy Lovett 6-2, 6-0 in the first round on Friday, using heady play to defeat the Sunset Region’s No. 2 seed.
“He found out the guy’s weakness and capitalized on that and continued to pick him apart,” said STHS boys’ coach Kyle Horvath. “He was steady and in control the whole way.”
In a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinals, Breland cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Roberts in the semifinals, sending the STHS junior to the third-place match against Yeghnazary. Breland, a sophomore, also defeated Roberts in straight sets last year and established himself as the state’s top player this season by beating Reno’s Jeff Mullen 6-2, 6-2 in Saturday’s finals.
“Jeff definitely got the easier draw, not having to face Stan until the finals,” Roberts said of Reno’s top player. “But it was fun because all the players from the North were rooting for each other. The draw you can’t do anything about because they just pull it out of a hat.”
In the first round of the girls’ state tournament, Liberty’s Julia Baltas defeated South Tahoe’s Masha Long 6-1, 6-0. Baltas lost to Canyon Springs’ Candynce Boney in the finals, a week after the rivals played in the Sunrise Region championship match.
It was Long’s first loss of the season after going through the regular season and regional tournament undefeated.
“I am really happy that I’ve gotten to coach Masha during her career,” said STHS girls’ coach Pat Fagen, who was unable to attend the tournament because of illness. “I know she’s the strongest girl we’ve ever had at our school. It was great to see both Masha and Jimmy do so well this season.”
Palo Verde’s David Nichols and Brandon Parker won the boys’ doubles title, while Bishop Gorman’s Lauren David and Jillian Davis won the girls’ doubles title.