By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 15, 2001
Let the real season begin.
District tournaments begin Monday, which is when most of the area's top teams and players intend to kick it up a notch.
The regular season is nice. It's a way to stay in shape, keep in touch with old friends and spend an afternoon outdoors. But when the district tournament rolls around, it's time to get serious. East Lake has been waiting for this week for quite a while. It was rarely tested during the Pinellas County Athletic Conference schedule en route to a 14-0 season.
The Eagles put an exclamation point on the regular season with a 7-0 win over rival Palm Harbor U.
Countryside is the only familiar foe in Class 3A, District 9, but the Eagles are hoping for more than a district championship.
"These guys have set their sights high," East Lake coach Bill Gunther said. "They believe they can go to the state tournament and do well."
East Lake isn't the only team with high hopes. Countryside's girls team could be one of its best ever. The Cougars also play in Class 3A, District 9, so they must get past East Lake and Land O'Lakes.
With tremendous depth, Countryside should advance to the regionals and state tournament.
In Class 3A, District 10, it appears the girls title will come down to Clearwater and Seminole. Boca Ciega's Tiffanie Kalvoda likely will take the No. 1 singles championship, as she has the past two years.
On the boys side, Seminole is paced by Fred Johnson and Aaron Kitenplon. The Warhawks could be tough to beat.
The Lakewood girls are another county team that could do well in Class 2A-10. The Spartans have depth and experience after winning the district last season with essentially the same team.
In Class A, Canterbury's boys and girls teams are once again the area's best. Shorecrest's girls can't be overlooked.