LOL's Roller to build on state tennis experience
SANFORD - With a year left, Colin Roller's career is just getting started. The Land O' Lakes High junior, arguably the most dominant tennis player in Pasco County, just saw a remarkable state tournament run come to an end Wednesday. In his first Class 2A individual appearance, Roller breezed through his quarterfinal match by beating Orlando Bishop Moore's Mathew Plumley, 6-0, 6-2 to reach the state semifinals. "It felt good to get my first win at states and get that monkey off my back," Roller said. "And I was (very) close to reaching the final and playing for a state championship." In the semifinals, Roller faced No. 1-seeded Roy Lederman from Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest, a player ranked No. 2 in the state in junior tennis.Roller was undeterred and took the first set, 6-3. But in a match that became a 3-hour marathon in 90-degree heat, Roller dropped the next sets 6-0, 6-2. "I definitely picked up a lot of experience (at state)," Roller said. "It's definitely going to get easier as I get seeded, so I don't have to play (Lederman) until the final or something. I just want to get higher seeded and improve - build on what I did here this week." Roller looks to only get better in county play, which might be near impossible given that, in the past three seasons, he is 43-1 in county matches. The one blip came in March when Wiregrass Ranch No. 1 Courage Okungbowa defeated Roller and ended his 37-win streak in county matches. Roller and Okungbowa have exchanged wins on the 18-and-under USTA circuit, so perhaps Roller can restart the streak. "Something like that (with how many I've won), but I'm not quite sure or what will happen with that," Roller said. "My dad (Bob) likes that kind of stuff." First-year coach Jasalyn Gerazounis knew what kind of player she was getting when she inherited Roller: A competitor, a fighter, and a winner to boot. "From the time we started practicing, I knew he was someone we could rely on, that could carry this team," Gerazounis said. "I always felt that his toughest challenge, in the regular season, would be Courage at Wiregrass, so he helped us to the best record in our district and qualified for states. "What's great about the year he had this year was he even made it further than he did last year." In 2010, Land O' Lakes advanced to state in team competition in the midst of an undefeated season, yet was manhandled in the first round. In fact, Roller made it deeper into the state tournament than any Pasco County player, boy or girl, in the individual or team competition. "He's going to make his game even more well-rounded player after this trip to states," Gerazounis said. "He'll just take all this confidence and build on it and if anything, come out even more confident next season." That'll be the most important year for Roller - his last. "It was a positive year, so definitely build on this one," Roller said. "This year was a better year for the team than I thought it would be. We thought it was going to be a rebuilding year and thought we were going to take a step back, but it turned out that we were able to play at the same level as last year. Except for (not) winning regionals, it was a great year overall." "I plan on coming back to states, and hopefully, can finish what I started."
Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at email@example.com.