Girls tennis: Youth delivers during Wharton’s rally
TAMPA TAMPA WESLEY CHAPEL TAMPA WINTER HAVEN - VALRICO After 5 hours, the deciding factor in the Class 4A-Region 3 girls tennis semifinal between Wharton High and Newsome at River Hills Country Club came down to a tiebreaker in No. 2 doubles, which consisted of three freshmen and a sophomore. Wharton’s Gabi Paul and Racquel Royer won the third set, 6-4, to advance the Wildcats with a 4-3 victory. Wharton (12-2) entered the doubles matches having won three of the five singles and needed one more point to win the match. However, when Newsome’s No.?1 doubles team of identical twins and seniors Savannah and Alaina Ewing, who lost their singles matches earlier, rallied to defeat Wharton’s No. 1 doubles team, Paul and Royer knew the pressure was on them to win. Paul and Royer won the first set, 6-2, but lost the second 6-3 to force a decisive set.“We had to win at least one doubles,” said Paul, a freshman. “Then we lost the second set and we saw our No. 1 doubles go do down.” “We knew we had to win,” said Royer, a sophomore. With Royer serving, Paul hit a deep shot at the net Newsome could not return. Following the win, Wharton’s team stormed the court and celebrated. “We played each point by itself,” Paul said Plant, the two-time defending Class 4A state champion, once again played like a powerhouse, dominating visiting Wiregrass Ranch 4-1 in a Class 4A-Region 3 semifinal. Yes, Plant No. 1 Blair Martin lost her first match of the season, 6-1, 6-3 to Star Makarome, but the rest of the Panthers combined to lose only one game. “We’re staying focused right now,” Plant coach Margaret Drumsta said. “I’m telling the girls don’t even think about next week (at state) because we need to think about today and (Thursday’s final regional match). I think today we did a good job.” Though Martin lost, Drumsta and Martin found positives against a very formidable opponent in Makarome. “I’m going to be better because of this match,” said Martin, who admittedly wasn’t her sharpest on Tuesday. “This is the type of player I’ll see at state, so it was great to get this kind of a test.” On the court next to Martin, Plant’s No. 2, Erica Oosterhout, looked particularly sharp in a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Victoria Chavez. “We lost (Oosterhout) to an (ACL injury) the week before the state tournament last year, so it’s great to see her playing so well now,” Drumsta said. “She looked great.” King lost its Class 3A-Region 5 semifinal 4-3, to Lakeland George Jenkins. Despite singles wins from Sneha Sathish, Kathy Tran, and Jennifer Lin, the Lions lost both of their doubles matches. “( Ocala Forest ) were a very solid team all around,” Land O’ Lakes coach Karen Turman said. “We’re a very young team and hopefully this ends up being a good experience for us.” Forest’s No.?1 seed Taylor Dixon defeating Land O’ Lakes’ Kayva Avancha 6-3, 6-4. Forest’s No. 2 seed Alice Cannon knocked off Land O’ Lakes’ Cori Arndt, and in arguably the toughest match of the day, Ocala Forest’s No.?3 Katlyn McNeal edged by the Gators’ Deneen Wang 6-3, 7-5. A surprising season came to a close for Pasco as it was edged by Belleview, 4-3, in the Class 2A-Region 3 semifinals. “I am very proud of what our girls accomplished this year,” Lady Pirates coach Don Charlick said, “We lost four of our top six players from last year’s district championship squad, so for us to come this far is amazing. Before the season started no one in the county saw this coming.” Amanda Dee (15-3) won the number three singles match and Shelbie Timlake (18-0) finished her season undefeated with a win at number four singles, but Pasco fell into a hole by dropping the other three singles matches. In doubles, Dee and Timlake won the number two doubles match to tie the score at 3, but Mady Johnson and Sarah McCord fell short in number one doubles (6-2, 6-1) to give the Rams a chance to play for the regional title. The Lady Pirates won their third consecutive district title last week, a feat never before accomplished by a Pasco High tennis team (boys or girls). Carrollwood Day dropped just three sets en route to a 5-0 victory against Lakeland Christian in a Class 1A-Region 4 semifinal at Hillsborough Community College . Lauren Fitz-Randolph (8-0) and Casey Brynjolfsson (8-0) kept their perfect seasons intact. Lauren Fitz-Randolph defeated Kaitlynn Connell 6-0, 6-0. Brynjolfsson defeated Blake Bellar 6-0, 6-1. Lauren is now 4-0 this season in doubles with her sister Jackie Fitz-Randolph after defeating Taelor Chism and Chelsea Langley 6-0, 6-0. Tampa Prep’s young team came through with a dramatic 4-3 victory at Winter Haven Saints’ in the Class 1A-Region 4 semifinals. No. 1 singles Paige Leavy led the way with a 6-0, 6-0 victory. The Terrapins also gained victories at No. 3 and No. 5 singles and at No. 1 doubles, which won 6-0, 6-2.