The Lions don't drop a game on their way to all of the singles finals.
By MIKE READLING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 22, 2003
TEMPLE TERRACE -- Not only did King not lose a match during Monday's Class 3A, District 11 tennis tournament, the Lions didn't even drop a game at the Whiteway Courts.
Linda Tien advanced to the No. 2 final without even stepping foot on the court. Such is life when you finish the regular season as the only undefeated girls team in the county.
Thanks to byes in the first round of the doubles brackets, King will play in all five singles championships and both doubles semifinals with an excellent chance to sweep the competition.
Laura Gioia got everything started for the Lions by winning No. 1 singles 6-0, 6-0 over Plant's Lauren Goldstein. Gioia will play Alonso's Fernanda Ospina in this morning's final.
Ospina, a freshman from Venezuela, defeated Jefferson's Julia Bitkova in the first round then avenged one of her two losses this season by beating Sickles Jaclyn Widi 6-2, 7-5. The two points Ospina earned with two wins doubled Alonso's total from last year's district tournament.
Tien received a bye through the opening round as the top seed then won her semifinal by default when Tyler Hodges' neck stiffened too much to compete for Plant. Hodges, who has been fighting a cold, woke up with the stiff neck but was able to beat Alonso's Selena Centofante 6-1, 6-0 before withdrawing from the semifinal.
King's Brooke Allen will take on Caylee Cotney from Sickles in the No. 3 final, Paige Kensrye will try to keep Plant's Victoria Crago from defending her No. 4 singles crown, and Corrine Crollard of Sickles will play King's Jen Fiorica in the No. 5 final.
TAMPA -- After adding the points and looking at today's matchups, St. Petersburg coach Alan Turnquist still sees a chance for his team, a very good chance if his team comes to play.
"I told the girls all day that if we win at No. 3, 4 and 5 then we'll have a shot," Turnquist said. "That still holds true."
Indeed, Palm Harbor U. leads with 10, followed by St. Petersburg at eight and Chamberlain with seven.
Palm Harbor still has singles players alive at Nos. 2 through 5, but the kicker is that St. Petersburg plays against Palm Harbor in the bottom three matches.
And in the other matches, Palm Harbor appears to be far from a shoo-in.
"Everything has to fall into place," Turnquist said. "But it could happen."
In No. 1 singles, Gaither's Brianna Williams and Chamberlain's Becky Gordon meet in the final after losing two games apiece in the quarterfinals.
In No. 1 doubles, Williams and teammate Annika Johansson appear to be the team to beat after taking out St. Petersburg's No. 1 doubles team 6-0, 6-3.
"(Williams and Johansson) have lost only one match this season, but they didn't play their best in that one," Gaither coach Dana Madrid said. "So if they play well, they'll be tough to beat."
-- SCOTT PURKS
BRADENTON -- Durant sophomore Abby Martin was the only Hillsborough County player to break into the finals in Class 3A, District 12 through Monday's semifinals.
Her 6-3, 6-3 win over Bayshore sophomore Jan Griga at No. 5 prevented the district singles finals from being all Lakewood Ranch vs. Bayshore.
"Hopefully, I can always do better than today, but I feel I did pretty good at the net today though," Martin said. "However, I will have to do much better (today). I will be playing the No. 1 seed for the No. 5 position (Lakewood's Clare Kerekes) and she is very good. I just want to play my best then I will be pleased with my performance no matter what."
Last year's 3A-12 champion, Lakewood Ranch, won all its singles matches and only gave up nine games in its five semifinal wins.
However, Mustangs coach Steven Long was not sure his team would have an easy road today in the finals.
"We have all our singles players in the finals, but the battle will be tough," Long said. "(Bradenton) Bayshore has really turned it up this year and all but one of our finals will be against them. I knew we would be strong again this year and we will see just how strong (this) morning. The doubles will be crucial in determining the district championship."
-- TERRY JONES
In the Class 2A, District 11 tournament at Bardmoor Tennis Club in Largo, Tampa Catholic's Miranda Gutierrez, ranked fourth in the state last season, defeated Booker's Stacey Pearson 6-0, 6-0, to reach the final round against Lori Colby of Bradenton Southeast. Colby was a 6-0, 6-0 winner over Osceola's Ashley Myers. "I remember Lori from last year's district tournament," Gutierrez said. "She was very good then and I know she has become even better. I'll have to be at the top of my game to beat her."
Tampa Catholic, with 11 points, led Palmetto (nine) in the standings. Booker (five) was third.
-- JIM REESE
TAMPA -- The Class A, District 8 matches had a little more drama and close calls than the boys competition, but the end result is expected to be the same.
Saddlebrook is just too good.
The biggest hope for an upset in the finals will come between Tampa Prep No. 1 Andrea Meythaler and Saddlebrook No. 1 Christina Liles, in which Liles has the edge. However, after Saddlebrook, the rest of the teams expect to battle for second place.
Saddlebrook did not drop any semifinals en route to taking a seven-point lead. Tampa Prep and Academy of the Holy Names are tied at 3. Berkeley Prep's lone point came from No. 5 Jessica Ayers' 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 victory over Tampa Prep's Tasha Babbitt, and Cambridge did not win a match.
Meythaler defeated Marie King of Holy Names, whom battled Meythaler last season for the top spot when the two attended Holy Names. One of Monday's more exciting matches came at No. 1 doubles when Meythaler and Mary Ingram beat King and Kelly Russell 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
Saddlebrook has not lost all season, but some of today's finals may be close. "I think it's fun," playing Saddlebrook, Meythaler said. She acknowledged, though, that she would rather see the tennis academy playing in another district.
Today's singles competition begins at 9 a.m. at Harbour Island Athletic Club. The doubles will follow at 11.
-- EMILY NIPPS