Ross van Boven advances to the conference No. 2 final.
By MIKE READLING
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2001
TAMPA -- Wharton's Paul Lefebvre and Plant's Eric Franca played a marathon No. 5 singles match, but the story of Tuesday's Western Conference semifinals was Hillsborough's Ross van Boven.
Van Boven defeated the Wildcats' Evan Beck 6-2, 6-1 in No. 2 singles to advance to today's final and improve to 12-0. Van Boven will face Plant's Eli Samaha in the final at Riverfront Park at 2 p.m. "(Today) is going to be tough," van Boven said. "But it's going to be a lot of fun."
Win or lose, van Boven already has made this season a success. His mother promised him a steak dinner if he finished the regular season undefeated. Steak dinner in hand, the junior now has his eyes on continuing the streak.
"I try not to make a big deal out of it but ... ," he said. "Everyone else on the team won't let me forget about it."
Van Boven was the Terriers' only highlight of the day as Wharton won four of five semifinals to take a 4-3 lead over Bloomingdale. Konstantin Lazarov started the Wildcats' day with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Hillsborough's Arjun Parasher. Lazarov will play Plant's Nick Bass, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Bloomingdale's Brandon Forshaw, for the No. 1 title.
Plant's only other win came from Samaha, a 7-5, 6-2 winner over Bloomingdale's Sean Belmudez at No. 2 singles.
Wharton's Greg Fischer eased past Hillsborough's Bradley White 6-2, 6-0 and will face Bloomingdale's Scotty Conley, who beat Javier Martinez 1-6, 6-0, 6-4.
The No. 4 singles final will feature Bloomingdale's Jason Williams, a 6-0, 6-1 winner over Hillsborough's Roshen Patel, and Wharton's Frankie Castillo, who escaped Plant's John Day 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. The No. 5 singles semifinal between Franca and Lefebvre was the most evenly matched pairing of the day, resulting in the longest match. Lefebvre finally pulled out the 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-2), 6-4 win more than three hours after the first serve.
He will face Bloomingdale's Andy Nessmith, a 6-2, 6-1 winner over Hillsborough's Amar Raval.