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Tennis glance

By CAREY FREEMAN and KEITH NIEBUHR
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 3, 2002


BOYS

CITRUS

COACH: Doug Patton, sixth year.

LAST SEASON: First in the district, lost in regional to Hudson.

KEY LOSSES: Irvin MacQuarrie, Dave Peleshock.

TOP NEWCOMERS: Oliver Grebb, Sr.; Pierre Presti, Jr.; Andy Stewart, Fr.

RETURNEES: Brett Feldman, So.

OUTLOOK: Feldman went 12-0 and was the district champion at No. 3. He will compete for the No. 1 spot with Presti, a Venezuelan exchange student. They give the Hurricanes a solid 1-2 punch, but in order for this team to be successful, newcomers at the bottom of the lineup will need to produce. One player Patton is counting on is senior Chris Barton. Another is Stewart. Citrus has rebuilt its lineup, but could be strong by season's end.

QUOTABLE: "We always start the year off with question marks," Patton said. "We've got so many new players it's hard to tell how good we'll be. But I'm excited. We've got two good ones at the top. And I believe with some experience, the others can be good players. It's exciting to see how it all plays out."

CRYSTAL RIVER

COACH: Vicki Browning, first year.

LAST SEASON: Third in district.

KEY LOSSES: Bret Bienkowski, Tony Domingo, John Wang.

TOP NEWCOMERS: Chris Lavoie, Fr.; Jack Odom, Sr.; Ash Preston, Sr.; Danny Price, Fr.

RETURNEES: Mason Cummins, Sr.; Tyler Cummins, So.; Chad Demontfort, Jr.; Mike Domingo, So.; Chris Grillo, Sr., Brian Wilkerson, Jr.

OUTLOOK: Browning, the Pirates' coach from 1983-90, takes over after assisting Rich Tangeman last season. Browning thinks Crystal River has the ability to compete with the top teams in the district. Lavoie likely will play in the No. 1 spot. Demontfort, Grillo and Wilkerson are solid members and each could play anywhere from Nos. 2-4 in the lineup.

QUOTABLE: "I'm expecting them to do very well," Browning said. "I feel like we have a lot of hard-working young men. If we continue to work as hard as we are now, I feel like our results will be very good."

LECANTO

COACH: Lindsay Rodriguez, second year.

LAST SEASON: Lost to Citrus in district championship.

KEY LOSSES: Rushil Rao, Naveen Reddy, Ankoor Patel.

TOP NEWCOMERS: Cyprian Rodriguez, Fr., Ravi Parikh, Fr., Adam Talley, Jr.

RETURNEES: Samir Amin, Sr., Avash Rao, So., Shawn Kahn, So., Louis Ottino, Sr., Naraj Nathan, So., Brad Ruben, So.

OUTLOOK: The Panthers lost two of the area's most dominant players the past three years with the graduation of Rao, a two-time district champion, and Reddy, who teamed with Rao for the doubles title last season. But Rodriguez made sure his younger players saw plenty of action last year. That should pay off. Avash Rao, Rushil's younger brother, played at No. 3 a season ago and likely will battle Amin for No. 1 spot. The rest of the squad is young but talented. Only time will tell. QUOTABLE: "We got the freshmen some experience last year and hopefully they can carry the load evenly," Rodriguez said. "They need to play more games, and this year they'll get it."

GIRLS

CITRUS

COACH: Phil Gaffney, first year.

LAST SEASON: District runner-up.

KEY LOSSES: Vanessa Albaum, Lindsay Horne, Sheila Wollatz.

TOP NEWCOMERS: Asha Balakrishnan, Fr.; Kitty Kinsey, So.; Nissa Stuart, Jr.

RETURNEES: Nicole Feldman, Sr.; Andrea Hanson, So.; Katie Hendrick, Sr.; Tiffany Miller, Jr.

OUTLOOK: Wollatz, the team's lone all-area singles player in 2001, graduated. But the return of Feldman, Hanson, Hendrick and Miller gives the Hurricanes a lineup that has potential. Feldman and Hanson were honorable-mention all-area selections last season. Positions haven't been announced by Gaffney, but Feldman might be the top candidate to earn the No. 1 seed. Hendrick is another player to watch. Gaffney takes over after coaching at Crystal River Middle School the past four years.

QUOTABLE: "With a little playing experience, and with their positive attitudes, good things will happen," Gaffney said.

CRYSTAL RIVER

COACH: Laura Flanagan.

LAST SEASON: Fourth in district.

KEY LOSSES: None.

TOP NEWCOMERS: Ashley Christie, Fr., Elizabeth DeRevere, Fr.

RETURNEES: Elizabeth Walling, Sr., Noopur Shukla, Sr., Scarlet McKethan, So., Kellie Brooks, So., Elaina Fitzpatrick, So.

OUTLOOK: Flanagan is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced coaches in the county, and her skills are greatly needed by the young Pirates. Flanagan tried to build a foundation last year and is hoping it pays off this season. Crystal River returns its top five and has added talented freshmen in Christie and DeRevere, both of whom could crack the starting five by season's end.

QUOTABLE: "I'm impressed with the freshmen that have moved up, and I would say that on any given day, Nos. 1-5 can beat each other. We're pretty even all the way down," Flanagan said.

LECANTO

COACH: Joan Roberts, second year.

LAST SEASON: District champions, region champions, third in state.

KEY LOSSES: Jessie Roberts, Mujiba Ansari.

TOP NEWCOMERS: Shreyah Rao, Fr., Lisa Hoss, Jr., Ahalya Rao, So.

RETURNEES: Jennifer Rimes, Jr., Nisha Shah, So., Ashley Campbell, So., Sireesha Bellam, So.

OUTLOOK: Lecanto, winner of the last five district titles, including two consecutive perfect regular seasons, is at the point where it doesn't rebuild -- it reloads. The Panthers lost their No. 1 and No. 2 (along with the top doubles team) in Roberts and Ansari, but have plenty of talented young players to pick up the load. Rimes, who won the pivotal match against Bishop Moore in Lecanto's 2000 regional championship, has stepped up to assume the No. 1 role after playing at No. 3 last year. Shah, Campbell and Bellam showed signs of promise.

QUOTABLE: "(Rimes) played at state last year, and she has plenty of experience," Joan Roberts said.

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