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CRYSTAL RIVER - Two Citrus County teams are close together at the top of the tournament going into today's Class 2A, District 5 finale.
Lecanto led after one day with 10 points followed by Crystal River with nine. They will play each other in every singles match today, except at No.2 in which Lecanto plays Ocala West Port.
Crystal River's Brian deMontfort and Lecanto's Matt Tringali in No. 1 singles highlight the match. Both Crystal River and Lecanto's No.1 and No. 2 doubles pairs advanced to today's semifinals on first round byes. If both schools win their respective matches, it would set up Lecanto-Crystal River doubles finals matches. Citrus advanced in both doubles matches to face Lecanto in the semifinals.
Lecanto and Crystal River have alternated district titles for the past several years, with the Panthers winning last year and 2003, and the Pirates in 2004 and 2002.
"It's going to be tough," said long-time Crystal River coach Vicki Browning, who is retiring after coaching various Pirate sports for 27 years. "it's going to be close. We've still got a long road to hoe to win the districts. It's not out of our grasp but Lecanto's sitting in the driver's seat right now."
NEW PORT RICHEY - Central (14-2) swept through all its singles matches during the first day at River Ridge. The Bears didn't lose a set in any match and will have a player seeded for every final today.
As for the finals, the top three singles will have Wesley Chapel (12-3) and Central pitted against each other.
The No. 1 singles match is Wildcats freshman Tyler Brown, who went undefeated this season, against Central's John McDonald. Brown already beat McDonald once in the regular season. The No. 2 singles will be the Bears' Tony Bulso vs. Wesley Chapel's Chris Arfsten and the No. 3 singles seed will be Wildcat J.V. Nicolas vs. Central's Kyle Staton.
Central finished the day first with 15 points, with Wesley Chapel second at 11 and Land O'Lakes third with six.
Host River Ridge (11-2) finished the day with four points, missing out on a late singles point from No. 2 Lucas Loman, who lost to Arfsten 4-6, 6-3, 2-6.
With Central's presence in all the matches, coach Hank Deslaurier came into districts confident about his team's chances, as the Bears' only two losses came from Orlando private schools with "stellar" tennis programs.
"Those games were used to challenge us," Deslaurier said. "But this is our district to lose. We know we should be the team to beat."
Hernando dominated the first day of action, putting all five of its singles players into the finals. Nature Coast and Gulf also had strong days, putting three and two, respectively, into the finals.
At No. 1 singles, Hernando's Raleigh Williams will face Gulf's Trevor Hubbard, and Hernando's Chris Walter's will take on Gulf's Zach Miller at No. 2 singles. Lance Vandervoort, Seth Rumbarger and D.J. McElroy also made the finals for Hernando.
Hernando finished the first day leading the team standings by three over Nature Coast.