Granada Hills doubles duo wins City Section individual tennis championship

Granada Hills' Christian Camarillo returns serve in the City Individual doubles final Tuesday.
Granada Hills' Christian Camarillo returns serve in the City Section boys' doubles final on Tuesday. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Rallying from a 5-2 deficit in the decisive third set, David Tinajero and Christian Camarillo raced to a 6-0 lead in the tiebreaker and needed one point to clinch the City Section individual doubles title Tuesday afternoon at Birmingham High.

The Granada Hills duo, however, squandered six straight chances and sensed victory slipping away as they switched sides in a tense final versus top-seeded Aidan Adham and Todd Valkov of Palisades. With Valkov serving, Camarillo kept his cool and hit a volley winner to set up a seventh match point. Tinajero served from the ad side and watched a forehand return sail over the baseline, giving him and his childhood friend a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) triumph.

“On the changeover I heard one of the Pali kids say ‘they don’t want it’ and that fired us up,” said Tinajero, who had played No. 2 singles in the team finals May 2. ”I’ve known Christian since I was 7, we train together at PAC Tennis Academy in Sylmar and we live less than five minutes from each other. We don’t want to let each other down.”

“We’re both fighters, we share a strong connection and no matter what the score is we don’t ever give up,” added Camarillo, who partnered with James Truong to sweep at No. 1 doubles in the team finals at Balboa Sports Center.

Palisades sophomore Neel Joshi beat senior teammate Jex Frankel 6-4, 6-4 to become the fourth consecutive 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 because of the coronavirus).

Joshi, seeded No. 3 in the 32-player draw, did not face Granada Hills’ No. 1 player Kristian Sharma in the team finals because both players were subbed out once Palisades clinched the 19-to-10.5 victory, but he upset the Highlanders freshman in the semifinals Monday and rode that momentum into Tuesday’s final against the top-seeded Frankel.

Palisades' Neel Joshi beat teammate Jex Frankel 6-4, 6-4 to win the City Section boys' singles final.
Palisades' Neel Joshi beat teammate Jex Frankel 6-4, 6-4 to win the City Section boys' singles final. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

“I’ve been in a nice groove since getting to the Boys' 16s semifinals in Ojai,” said Joshi, who won all eight of his sets (four in singles and four at No. 1 doubles with Frankel) to help Palisades place 10th at the National High School All-American Tournament in Newport Beach in March. “I’ve improved my forehand and my serve a lot since last year.”

Palisades was denied its fourth consecutive City “triple crown” (capturing the team, singles and doubles titles in the same calendar year).

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.