“He has a great serve,” Tovar said of Knight. “He will not miss balls. He will make you miss. He’s a great player.”
Knight, who finished second at state last season with a 15-1 individual record, said he is much improved from 2012.
“This whole team has been working on our fitness, training on and off the court,” said Knight, who was 8 years old when he first started playing tennis at Morningside Park. “We’ve been working on the track, the gym and running lines on the court.”
• Visiting Krop improved to 14-0-1 win a dominant performance, dropping a combined total of just two games. “Our girls are really ready for state,” Krop coach Michelle Kypriss said.
Boys — Krop 4, Reagan 1 : No. 1 Alex Knight d. Juan Tovar, 6-0, 6-2; No. 2 Paul A’drey Pierre-Louis d. Christian Villacis, 6-2, 6-0; No. 3 Ariel Hollender d. Juan Villasmil, 6-4, 6-4; No. 4 Alex Rothman d. Nelson Romero, 6-1, 6-2; No. 5 Alejandro Rico d. Christian Federici, 7-6, 7-6.
Girls — Krop 5, Flanagan 0: No. 1 Cassie Pough d. Samantha Arcvalo, 6-2, 6-0; No. 2 Danna Gandelman d. Lina Restrepo, 6-0, 6-0; No. 3 Naiya Oden d. Anna Dushax, 6-0, 6-0; No. 4 Sophia Sultan d. Nathla Farjavo, 6-0, 6-0; No. 5 Naomi Maehama d. Adrienne Guilbaud, 6-0, 6-0;
• The Palmetto girls and Coral Gables boys punched their tickets to states at the Biltmore Hotel with victories in Class 4A regional finals.
The Panthers defeated the Coral Gables girls’ team 4-1, and the Cavaliers boys swept the five singles matches 5-0 from Columbus.
The Palmetto girls, who will send an individual to the state finals for the sixth consecutive season, will now advance to states as a team for the third year in a row.
With Palmetto up 3-1 in girls play, the lone Panther playing was Emma Petersen at the No. 2 position against Gables’ Paulina Bejar. Had Petersen lost the three-set match, the regional would’ve been extended to doubles play to determine a winner.
But Petersen clinched a come-from-behind, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory to get the team packing early. Already up 3-2 in the third set with both players holding serve, Petersen broke Bejar’s serve to take a commanding 4-2 lead.
“She was down 4-1 in the second set [after dropping the first], and came back to win that set 6-4,” said Palmetto girls’ tennis coach Kelly Gibson, whose team placed fourth at states last season. “That was a huge turning point.
“For a kid to do that, that’s pretty big. She never gives up.”
Coral Gables, which was hosting both regionals, did not come away empty Thursday. Although the girls fell, the boys are returning to states after finishing second to Weston Cypress Bay in last season’s tournament.
The Cavaliers did it without No. 1 singles player Alfredo Perez, who was participating in the Easter Bowl in California.
The Gables girls will still have Sonja Radosevic and Paulina Bejar representing them individually in states after winning their district title at No. 1 doubles. Radosevic will also play singles individually at states after her district title at the No. 1 singles position.
Girls’ results — Palmetto 4, Coral Gables 1 — No. 1 singles: Sonja Radosevic (CG) d. Cary Milanes (PAL) 6-1, 6-0; No. 2 singles: Emma Petersen (PAL) d. Paulina Bejar (CG) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; No. 3 singles: Olivia Schuitema (PAL) d. Isabella Blanes (CG) 6-2, 6-0; No. 4 singles: Alex Schlesinger (PAL) d. Alex Acalay (CG) 6-1, 6-1; No. 5 singles: Sophia Dao (PAL) d. Rafa Game (CG) 6-0, 6-0.
Boys’ results — Coral Gables 5, Columbus 0 — No. 1 singles: Mirko Radosevic (CG) d. Bernard Tefel (COL) 1-6, 6-2, 6-2; No. 2 singles: Cristian Gazzolo (CG) d. Thomas McCoy (COL) 6-3, 6-0; No. 3 singles: Sebastian Gazzolo (CG) d. Victor Marotta (COL) 6-2, 6-4; No. 4 singles: Jacobo Nieto (CG) d. Russell McCoy (COL) 6-2, 6-4; No. 5 singles: Federico Mercado (CG) d. Ricardo Lopez (COL) 6-0, 6-2.