After falling 5-2 in the deciding third set, David Tinajero and Christian Camarillo rallied 6-0 in the tiebreak and needed a point to clinch the City Section singles doubles title at Birmingham High on Tuesday afternoon.
The Granada Hills duo, however, missed six straight chances and felt the win dwindle as they switched sides in a thrilling final against top seeded Palisades Aidan Adham and Todd Valkov. Valkov’s serve kept Camarillo calm and volleyed for the seventh match point. Tinajero served from the promotional side and watched a forehand return sail across the baseline for a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) win for himself and his childhood friend.
“At the changeover, I heard one of the Pali kids say, ‘They don’t want it,’ and that cheered us up,” said Tinajero, who finished second in the singles team final on May 2. “I’ve known Christian since I was 7, we train together at PAC Tennis Academy in Sylmar and live less than five minutes apart. We don’t want to let each other down.”
“We’re both fighters, we have a strong bond and we never give up no matter the score,” added Camarillo, center who tied for first place in doubles with James Truong in the team finals at Balboa Sports.
Palisades sophomore Neel Joshi defeated senior teammate Jex Frankel 6-4, 6-4 to become the fourth straight Palisades player to win the singles title. Michael Kaplan won it last year, Frankel won it in 2021 and Henry Lovett won it in 2019 (the 2020 season was canceled due to the coronavirus).
Joshi, seeded No. 3 in the 32-man draw, did not meet Granada Hills No. 1 Kristian Sharma in the team final as both players were substituted after Palisades’ 19-10.5 win but he caused a stir for the Highlanders newcomer in Monday’s semifinals and carried that momentum into Tuesday’s final against top seed Frankel.
“I’ve been fine since reaching the boys’ 16-year-old semifinals in Ojai,” said Joshi, who won all eight of his sets (four in singles and four in No. 1 doubles with Frankel) to go to Palisades 10th place helped at the National High School All-American Tournament in Newport Beach in March. “I’ve improved my forehand and serve a lot since last year.”
Palisades were denied their fourth consecutive City Triple Crown (winning the team, singles and doubles titles in the same calendar year).