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4A tennis: Berger powers Titans boys to opening round win

Catalina Foothills' Zaina Sufi helped lead her team to an 8-0 win Tuesday over Lake Havasu in the 4A-I state playoffs.

Catalina Foothills' Zaina Sufi helped lead her team to an 8-0 win Tuesday over Lake Havasu in the 4A-I state playoffs.

After missing the 2008 boys tennis state tournament, the Palo Verde boy’s tennis team made a pact this season to not only make state, but advance to the state title match.

Matt Berger made sure the team got off on the right foot Tuesday.

Berger finished his singles match in straight sets, clinching for No. 3 Palo Verde a 5-3 win over No. 14 Amphi in the opening round of the Class 4A Division II boys tennis tournament.

Palo Verde was one of nine southern Arizona teams advancing in Tuesday’s first day of the Class 4A state tournaments.

“It was a good win,” said Berger, who defeated Abisay Rodriguez 6-1, 6-2. “We had played them three times before and we knew what we expected. Our goal is to win the state championship. We knew they had some good players, so we had to come out prepared.”

The No. 1 singles match between Palo Verde star Dominic Bermudez and Amphi’s Alan Barrios was tied 1-1 in the second set when the team competition was clinched. Bermudez, the 2007 4A-II state singles champion, won the first set 6-3.

“I’ve been in a real slump lately,” said Bermudez. “I played decent, but it’s still not good enough to do my thing on the court.

“(Not finishing the match) bugs me a little bit, but it also makes me feel more confident about my team. They can get the job done and that is the first time they got the job done without my help. I think that is a plus.”

Amphi’s Carlos Medina picked up one of his team’s wins with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Arthur Dean. Amphi also won one singles match by forfeit and a doubles match.

Palo Verde will play No. 6 Cottonwood Mingus in the May 5 quarterfinals.

Sahuarita and Douglas also advanced in the boys 4A-II tournament while Sabino and Catalina Foothills each won easily in the 4A-I boys tournament.

Class 4A girls playoffs

At Sahuarita, Catalina’s tennis team was unaware it qualified for the 4A-II state tournament and did not show up for Tuesday’s match at Sahuarita.

The Mustangs, who advance to play No. 5 Gilbert Higley in the May 5 quarterfinals, haven’t played as a team since the April 21 Gila Region tournament (several players competed April 23 and 24 in the Gila Region individual tournament).

“We were prepared to play today,” Sahuarita coach Eduardo Escobedo said. “I don’t think the layoff will affect the team. We’re going to keep practicing these days that we’re off and going to be ready for next week.”

In the 4A-I tournament, Catalina Foothills, Nogales and Canyon del Oro each won their matches Tuesday.

For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.

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