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JV call-up, Bears slam Springstead

By BRANT JAMES

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- From a team standpoint, Central's 7-0 win over Springstead in girls tennis on Thursday had little punch.

Not considering Central entered the match 12-2 and atop its district. And not considering only two Eagles hung around long enough to actually represent their school.

The hook was at the personal level, where recent junior varsity call-up Katie McCabe was inserted into the abbreviated lineup and beat Laura Heslin, 6-0, 6-3 in her first varsity match, then teamed with friend Paula Nagarajan to win in doubles, 8-2 over Heslin and Jenna Pecsenka.

"We're friends, so it wasn't like we had a lot of conflict, and we had good chemistry," McCabe said of her first-time doubles partner. "The day was a lot of fun."

McCabe took advantage of likely her only chance this season.

When the Bears begin district play April 16, McCabe figures to be squeezed back out of the lineup. With surgery to stretch her Achilles tendons forthcoming, she was glad to have something to tide her over.

"(Surgery) will probably make it easier to run on my heels because I run on my toes too much," she said. "Just as long as I'm back for tennis season it'll be OK."

Nagarajan, Central's No. 3, improved to 9-5 in singles, beating Pecsenka with crisp forehands and a tough serve.

"I feel bad for the two girls that came," Nagarajan said. "They actually made an effort. I don't know what happened, so I guess I can't say anything, but I wish the whole team had come. It would have been a good way to end the season."

Because the match was a rescheduled date, the 4-10 Eagles could not obtain a bus for transport to Central, Springstead assistant coach John Downey said. Team members made the trip in private cars, he said, but through some "miscommunication" all but Heslin and Pesenka left.

Coach Louise Harris had a prior engagement, Downey said.

"I definitely want to get to the bottom of this," Downey said.

"I think we would have had a good match-up. We would have been here a long time. This would have been a good tune-up for districts."

Central beat the Eagles 7-0 on March 6.

SITTIN' AROUND: Bears No. 1 Jen Ales, who won the top spot from Jane McDonald before her ankle injury, is 13-1, but did not get to play on Thursday.

McDonald, who rolled her ankle and had to concede her match against Hudson on March 21, hopes to begin hitting balls again this week, Central coach Joe Nicolai said.

"I'm pretty optimistic she's going to be back strong for districts," Nicolai said of McDonald (8-2).

Ales has combined with freshman Shelane Etchison at No. 1 doubles to go 4-1 -- the only loss to powerhouse Lecanto -- in McDonald's absence.

Central lost to the Panthers 7-0 on Tuesday, dropping the season series.

"That second match was not good at all," Nicolai said.

"Without Jane, the girls knew we were in a hole. All the matches were tough, but with Lecanto, it means a lot to have all your best players."

CENTRAL BOYS: The Bears conclude their regular season today with a home makeup against Hernando at 3:15 p.m.

Central (5-9) beat Springstead 4-3 on Tuesday as No. 1 Justin Davey, No. 2 Eric Ruoff, No. 3 Curtis Gardner each won in singles.

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