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PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Christina Gray never slides from the top, the same position she held last season.
By ROD GIPSON
Published December 14, 2005
TAMPA - Christina Gray's regular season wasn't spent so much competing with opponents as it was competing with herself.
The Tampa Prep junior standout entered the year as the top girls golfer in the county. And after another outstanding season, district title and top-10 finish at the state tournament, Gray ended the season the same way.
But don't expect Gray to congratulate herself. She's too busy trying to improve. Not that there's a whole lot to improve on.
Gray maintained her length off the tee, consistently averaging 250 yards per drive. She averaged 38 strokes per nine holes and captured the Class A, District 14 championship while helping lift the Terps to a team crown.
"I think I played better this year during the regular season," Gray said. "And I was able to win district. Overall it was a pretty good year, but I didn't play my best at state so I still feel like I have work to do and can improve."
Gray didn't wait until the offseason to begin working on her game.
With the state finals delayed because of hurricanes, Gray took the opportunity to try out new drivers and ended up with a new Ping G5 model for state. Gray fired an opening-round 73 and followed with 76 to finish tied for 10th.
"The competition definitely went up at state," Gray said. "It wasn't that I played badly, but you have to play well in your short game. From 100 yards and in, that's what makes the difference."
Tampa Prep coach Richard Veghte said Gray's game improved in several areas.
"She had such a good year as a sophomore, it would be hard to duplicate that," he said. "But she did. She was more experienced on the course and she showed a lot of consistency throughout the season."
Two seasons ago, Gray misfired in the districts and rebounded during regionals.
This season, it was reversed as Gray won districts but had an uncharacteristic "blow up" round during regionals. Putting together a consistent postseason is Gray's top goal for next season.
"I want to win all three - district, regionals and the state tournament," said Gray, who added she will play tennis this spring. "That's the main goal for me to complete next season."
Veghte said with another year of prep golf, Gray should have a shot at her goal, as well as make herself even more attractive to college programs.
"She has been an outstanding high school golfer," he said. "And she can get even better.
"She has all the tools and she has shown improvement in the few areas she needed to work at. There's no reason she won't be just as good next season."
ALL- HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY GIRLS GOLF TEAM
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Christina Gray, Tampa Prep, Jr.
SHENA YANG, WHARTON, FR.: Newcomer was medalist at districts.
STEFFANI SMITH, ARMWOOD, SR.: Second in district; two-time region qualifier.
DANA TURKER, BERKELEY PREP, SR.: Fifth overall at regionals.
KELSEY GIBSON, TAMPA PREP, 8TH-GRADER: Tied for 20th at state.
Academy of the Holy Names - Allison Symulcvich; Alonso - Erica Licata; Berkeley Prep - Sydney Ridley; Chamberlain - Sarah Fisher; Durant - Laura Martellino, Ashley Miller, Tiffany Wengyn, Heather Wengyn; East Bay - Julie Rolfe; Riverview - Megan Cope; Tampa Prep - Taylor Richardson.