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Argollo surprised her coach, county

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 14, 2002

LAND O'LAKES -- Lisa Laing's first impression of Marcela Argollo wasn't a particularly flattering one.

The foreign exchange student from Brazil was trying out for the girls soccer team last fall, but to Laing's dismay, opted not to play before preseason conditioning drills had finished, saying the physical demands of soccer were too much for her.

"She had told me she also played tennis, but she had also told me she played soccer," said Laing, the Gators' first-year coach. "I didn't know anything else about her until the first day of (tennis) practice. It was a very good surprise for me."

Argollo enters Monday's Class 3A, District 7 tournament at River Ridge as the top seed at No. 1 singles without dropping so much as a set in district competition. The main obstacle between her and the state tournament is Central's Jen Ales, whose only loss this season was a 6-2, 7-6 loss to Argollo.

"Even the No. 1 players in this area, they're not used to facing someone like Marcela," Laing said. "They've had (Wesley Chapel's Cristina) Lucin all these years, but that's been it."

Argollo's only losses this season have come against Lucin, but she has played the three-time state qualifier as close as anyone. Their first meeting netted Argollo the small consolation of knowing the four games she won were the most anyone has won against Lucin this year. In the rematch Thursday, Argollo won the opening set 6-1 -- the first time since last year's state semifinals that Lucin had dropped a set -- before losing the next two sets 6-3, 6-3.

The two standouts are in separate classes, so neither will block the other's path to the state tournament. The regular-season dominance has given Argollo a confidence that should keep her relaxed.

"She has a great serve, and she's very consistent," Laing said. "She knows she has to take every match seriously from here out, but she doesn't back down from anyone."

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