HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS
Four area teams advance to state
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 12, 2013 at 12:17 a.m.
Gainesville High boys tennis team did what was expected of them Thursday, making quick work of Ocala Forest at Northeast Park in the Region 3-3A finals.
The state title-contending Hurricanes did just that before rain took over.
Gainesville's Zach Goldberg, Cole Fiegel, Pete Slaton and Jacob Gordon — the team's top four singles players — gave up just one game between them in posting convincing wins and sending the Hurricanes to their third straight state tournament, beating Forest 4-0.
“It feels great,” said Paul Spradling, who in his 26 years as GHS coach led the 'Canes to state titles in 1996 and 1998. “We kind of thought we would do this. The district is really not real strong. But I played those hard matches during the season on purpose, hoping they would get us ready.”
GHS, unbeaten in the regular season, looked plenty ready early on against the Wildcats. Fiegel, at No. 2, defeated Nick Wigelsworth, 6-0, 6-0, then Slaton, at No. 3, disposed of Palmer Lovell, 6-0, 6-0, and No. 1 Goldberg beat Philip Libby, 6-1, 6-0. Just before an hour elapsed in the match, Gordon, at No. 4, finished off Mark Debolt, 6-0, 6-0, to clinch the match.
“Jacob has been the difference in this team this year,” Spradling said. “He is playing a lot better. Last year, he struggled a bit and we won matches like 4-3. But he is playing really well. The kid he played he struggled with at districts, but beat him 6-0, 6-0 today.”
First-round matches at the 3A state tournament, which will be played at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, start at 8 a.m.
Eastside girls win
For the first time since 2005, the Eastside girls tennis team earned a state tournament berth after a 6-1 win over Belleview in the Region 3-2A finals at Northside Park.
Like the Rams did in winning District 5 last week, Eastside won every match but the No. 2 doubles. Freshman Emily Louie-Meadors continued her impressive postseason, posting another shutout in No. 1 singles with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Belleview's Lauren Bitter. At No. 2 singles, junior Alexandra Sourakov defeated Sarah Perkins (6-1, 7-6), who was sidelined a bit after injuring her ankle.
Also picking up singles wins for the Rams were Toni Veltcheva, Murielle LeMaire and Angi Liu.
The No. 1 doubles team of Louie-Medors and Sourakov won by injury default because Perkins couldn't play. A year ago, the Rams lost to 4-3 to Dade City Pasco in the regional semifinals.
“It is amazing, I knew we had it in us,” said first-year coach Tina Bassi. “It was touch and go there for a couple of matches that were kind of tight and were evenly matched. The girls dug deep and were able to pull it out. It is a triumph for the team and the school. Like I told Mr. (Jeff) Charbonnet (principal), it is the seven-year itch, it was our turn. I am glad it was this year in my first year.”
The Rams open Class 2A state tournament play on Wednesday morning at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry.
Wave girls move on
For the second straight season, P.K. Yonge girls tennis team will be returning to the state 1A tournament after a 4-2 win at Jacksonville Episcopal in the Region 2 final.
Blue Wave coach Robert Taylor credits the No. 4 singles win by eighth grader Madison Sagas — 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 over Eagles junior Catherine Lee — as the turning point in the match.
“Maddie picked us up when we needed that extra point,” said Taylor, whose girls placed third at state a year ago. “After that first set, she really buckled down, especially in the third set.”
That point broke a 2-2 tie, and the No. 1 doubles team of Jazz Whittaker and Kiah Turner clinched it with a convincing 6-2, 6-1 win. Both Whittaker and Turner also had wins in singles.
The Blue Wave start their state tournament on Monday at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry.
“I think we do have a little edge than last year in that we have been there,” Taylor said. “It is a matter of putting it all together. We always try to peak at postseason.”