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Hey Simon. I've done some research on this as well and as far as I can tell, there is not. I have to hide/delete all tabs through Desktop before I can publish through the API. In v10, they've added something new call the Document API but doesn't have support yet for hiding or deleting sheets. Documentation can be found here: GitHub - tableau/document-api-python
If you're ok with doing what they call XML Hacking, you can look into programmatically opening the worksheet file before publishing. I've not played around with it but at a quick glance, there is a hidden tag in the xml that you can possibly add to your individual worksheets.
Thanks for the response Patrick!, apologies for my delayed response.
Yeah - we've done some direct workbook xml manipulations for a few projects with good result.