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CRYSTAL RIVER - The Class 2A, District 5 tourney finished more than 12 hours after it started, leaving a closely matched Citrus County showdown in today's finals.
Lecanto's girls team has won nine consecutive district titles, but Citrus could upset the Panthers this year. The 'Canes were 12-0 going into districts, led by sophomore Courtney Spafford, who won the No.1 singles title last year and would repeat if she defeats Lecanto's Sonia Shah in today's final.
Lecanto leads by one point with 11 to Citrus' 10. West Port closely trails with eight points, followed by Crystal River's seven. Lecanto and Citrus face each other in every singles final except No.3 and have the potential to face each other in the doubles finals as well. Citrus has a bye in No.1 doubles and Lecanto in No.2.
"This is huge," Citrus coach Michelle Connor said. "But we've got a lot left to go. We've got to get in there, dig deep and be ready to go, because I guarantee they'll will be."
A couple of star juniors both easily handled their first- and second-round opponents to set up an intriguing rematch in the No.1 singles finals.
Wesley Chapel's Yumi Hasegawa handed Central's Jeanette McDonald her first ever regular-season singles loss when the two squared off in late February. Now, McDonald is 18-2 and Hasegawa is undefeated, and the two will meet for the district championship this morning.
The outcome of the match (Hasegawa won 6-3, 6-2 the first time around) could also help decide the team champion. Heading into today's finals, Central, Wesley Chapel and River Ridge were all within two points of each other. Central and River Ridge both have three singles players in the finals and Wesley Chapel has two.
Hernando enters today's finals hoping it finally gets the best of Nature Coast. Three of the five Leopards singles players who made it to this morning's finals will square off against players from Nature Coast, which beat Hernando twice this season.
Hernando's Chelsea Clarke will face Nature Coast's Rachel Conter at No.1 singles, Angie Wessel will face Aspen Dukes at No.2 singles, and Rachel Loman will face Sara Paradis.