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Three-way tussle to settle 4A-5 boys tennis

Hillsborough, Wharton and St. Petersburg are tied going into today's final matches.

By SCOTT PURKS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 22, 2003

TAMPA -- It's anybody's guess as to who could win today's Class 4A, District 5 team title: Hillsborough, Wharton or St. Petersburg.

The three come in tied with nine points and equal opportunities for points today at Hillsborough Community College. Wharton and St. Petersburg each have three singles players and two doubles teams alive. Hillsborough has four singles players and a doubles team left.

"It should be very, very interesting to say the least," St. Petersburg coach Alan Turnquist said. "I feel confident in all our remaining players, but there is strong competition out there as well."

The favored player at No. 1 singles is nationally-ranked senior Alamgir Wali, who will face Wharton's Konstantin Lazarov in the final. Lazarov, however, doesn't intend to lie down.

"(Wali) is a great player," Lazarov said. "But I am looking forward to playing him. I am playing pretty well and feel like I have a chance."

Wharton, which finished third in the state in 2002, easily took the district title last year, and Wali advanced to the state tournament by beating Lazarov in No. 1 singles.

Palm Harbor University, with five points after Monday's action, along with Gaither and Chamberlain, have shots at spoiler roles in today's doubles quarterfinals.

Plant, King have title showdown

TEMPLE TERRACE -- In what Plant coach Matt Pfeiffer described as a "pretty typical" opening day at Class 3A, District 11, the Panthers and King breezed through first- and second-round singles matches to set up another two-team finale today at Whiteway Courts.

Plant and the Lions will face each other in all five singles championships and possibly could meet in the two doubles finals. The Panthers swept last year's final day, but Pfeiffer is counting on more competition this time.

"They're stronger this year because they got a new No. 2, so everybody moved down a spot," Pfeiffer said of the Lions. "And we lost our No. 3 so everybody moved up a spot. It should be pretty even this year."

The two squads played once this season. Plant won 4-3 about three weeks ago.

The Panthers' Eli Samaha (No. 1) and Eric Franca (No. 3) advanced without dropping a game. So did King's No. 2, Laxman Pichappan. Samaha and Franca will play Phillip Wolf and Neil Kumar, respectively, and Pichappan takes on Javier Martinez.

In the other brackets, Plant's Charles Joiner will meet King's Adam Weigle and Neil Khant will face No. 5 Oliver Barrett. -- MIKE READLING

Durant sweeps way to finals

BRADENTON -- Durant, last year's Class 3A, District 12 champions, was dominant in the first day of this year's tournament. All five Cougar singles players were seeded first and received byes in the opening round.

Playing Nos. 1-5 for the Cougars -- respectively, Shaun Young, Alex Vuckovic, John Brad Henderson, Justin Witford and Brenton Assing -- each won their semifinal matches in straight sets.

Young, Vuckovic, Henderson and Assing all won without losing a game. Whitford also made fast work of his opponent, giving up only one game in a 6-0, 6-1 match. Only No. 4 Whitford and No. 6 Jeff Jackson are seniors.


Jesuit goes 7-0

LARGO -- Tampa Jesuit began its march to another state tennis tournament by winning all seven of its matches in Monday's Class 2A, District 11 tournament at Bardmoor Tennis Club.

Coach Joe Curtis' Tigers, a state qualifier each of his nine years, can secure a place in the regionals with another strong performances Monday.

Brian Walsh, Eddy Shahanaserian, Connor Blouin, Matt Jordan and Drew Jennewion each won in singles to advance. "We did what we had to do today to put us in a position to win the tournament," Curtis said. "Now we have to go out and finish the job."

Jesuit lead Robinson 14-12. Bradenton Southeast was close behind with 11 points.


Terrapins left to chase Spartans

TAMPA -- Tampa Prep is having its best season in years, boasting a 13-1 record and some of the area's most talented freshmen. It won't do much good in today's Class A, District 8 finals, though. The Terrapins go up against Saddlebrook Prep, a tennis-intense prep school that is poised to win another title.

At the end of Monday's matches, Saddlebrook and Tampa Prep were tied with seven points. Berkeley Prep and Cambridge were scoreless.

"We don't really stand a chance in the finals," Tampa Prep No. 3 Cam Babbitt said. "Saddlebrook's No. 1 (Mark Spicijaric) just won the Easter Bowl."

Tampa Prep No. 1 George Navas defeated Justin Herzig 6-0, 6-4, and will face Spicijaric in today's 9 a.m. championship at Harbour Island Athletic Club. Navas and Babbitt play Spicijaric and Leonard Gullen in doubles at 11. Saddlebrook has not lost a match. All of Monday's semifinals were over in two sets, with six ending 6-0, 6-0.

Today's matches should be more competitive, though Tampa Prep coach Mark Hoekstra said he wasn't expecting to win the title. The Terrapins' lone loss was to Saddlebrook.

"Maybe we'll catch one (Saddlebrook player) home sleeping," Hoekstra said.


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