CLEARWATER — Palm Harbor University proved Wednesday that depth is key when it comes to playoff tennis.
The Hurricanes didn’t have an individual champion at boys or girls No. 1 singles, but they had enough winners in other divisions to take both team titles in the Class 4A, District 7 tournament at McMullen Tennis Center.
The PHU boys defeated East Lake 17-13 in the two-day tournament. The Hurricane girls outlasted East Lake 19-13.
Palm Harbor U.’s boys will host St. Petersburg in regionals Tuesday; the girls will host Seminole. East Lake’s boys and girls teams will play at Sarasota Riverview.
While the Hurricanes didn’t have a player in the boys or girls No. 1 final, they did have players in Nos. 2-5. Greg Perenich (No. 2) and Mo Nuh (No. 4) each won, then teamed up to win the No. 2 doubles championship. Nathan Lord and Brian Bell won at No. 1 doubles to automatically qualify for state.
The PHU girls did even better in singles. Samantha Azadian, Shannon Cruz, Hannah Rahman and Stefanie Miller all won at Nos. 2-5, respectively. Carina Gobes and Azadian teamed to triumph at No. 1 doubles and qualify for state. Cruz and Rahman also won No. 2 doubles.
“Depth was the difference,” PHU coach Irene Tharin said. “We’ve got the depth on both the boys and the girls side. We’re really strong 1-5.”
In the boys No. 1 singles final, East Lake’s Ganesh Rajaram remained undefeated after a 6-1, 6-4 win over Countryside’s Jordan Monosky. Rajaram advances to state as an individual No. 1 champion.
“I had a good start to the match. I felt good right from the beginning,” Rajaram said. “Getting that first set allowed me to relax a little bit. I didn’t have to work as hard because there wasn’t as much pressure. I just stuck to my plan and played pretty well.”
In the girls No. 1 singles final, Countryside’s Alex Kitchen defeated East Lake’s Raquel Moya 6-2, 6-1.