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Hudson keeps it loose entering regional

The Cobras go for a berth in the state tournament when they face Citrus on Friday.

By STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 19, 2001


HUDSON -- As an underdog, Hudson's lighthearted boys team upset Lake Wales last year to win its first regional title. Things might be getting more serious with the Cobras poised to win another regional title.

Naaahhhh.

Coach Ron Ladimir does not see how his players, most of whom he describes as "soccer kids playing tennis," will get too worked up thinking about the next round.

The Cobras (17-1 and coming off their second consecutive district championship) play at Citrus on Friday in a Class 2A, Region 3 matchup with a state berth at stake.

"They're enjoying themselves," Ladimir said. "I let them goof around. It keeps them loose. It keeps them relaxed."

"We're a cool crew," said No. 2 singles player Mark Hofmeyer, who also teams with Billy Boyko in No. 2 doubles. "We're laid-back."

Hofmeyer, a senior, declared himself "the funniest" Cobra. "I make a lot of noises when I hit (the ball) out," Hofmeyer said. "I'm like, 'Oh, baby.' But coach doesn't think I'm funny."

Ladimir said he realizes the Cobras snuck up on a few teams in winning district and regional titles last season.

"We had nothing to lose," the coach said. "We didn't care if we lost or not."

But, Ladimir said, things were different Tuesday, when Hudson entered the district tournament as a favorite.

"If we would have lost, it would have been a big deal," he said.

With Hudson one win shy of a second consecutive state berth, Ladimir said he believes beating Citrus, which knocked off unbeaten Lecanto to win a second consecutive district crown, will not be contingent on which team handles pressure better. "The team with the better overall talent will win," Ladimir said.

Citrus' Brett Feldman and Tim Peleshok won No. 3 and No. 5 district titles, respectively. That pair also won the No. 2 doubles crown.

Hudson's No. 3 Billy Boyko, No. 4 Juan Casteneda and No. 5 Robert Pollock, as well as the No. 2 doubles duo of Boyko and Hofmeyer, won district titles. That might give Hudson a slight edge, but the match might come down to how the top two seeds fare. The matchups will be Hudson's Marcus Ressler versus Citrus' Irvin MacQuarrie at No. 1 and Hofmeyer versus Brenden Conrad at No. 2.

Either way, Hofmeyer said, "We're going in there to have fun."

* * *

Regional tennis tournaments

CLASS A, REGION 5

WHAT: Boys regional; winner advances to state

WHERE: Saddlebrook Prep

WHEN: Friday, 4 p.m.

TEAMS: St. Petersburg Canterbury vs. Saddlebrook Prep

OUTLOOK: Saddlebrook went 4-1 this season, including a 4-1 win against Canterbury, and won every match in Tuesday's A-9 district tournament. The Spartans, led by No. 1 singles player Ben Ureta, defeated Canterbury in last year's regionals en route to finishing as state runners-up. Saddlebrook should return to the state meet.

* * *

CLASS A, REGION 5

WHAT: Girls regional; winner advances to state

WHERE: Saddlebrook Prep

WHEN: Friday, 4 p.m.

TEAMS: St. Petersburg Canterbury vs. Saddlebrook Prep

OUTLOOK: Like the boys, Saddlebrook defeated Canterbury in last year's regionals to advance to the state meet, where the girls finished fourth. The Spartans followed up a 5-0 season by winning all five singles and both doubles matches in the A-9 tournament. Kelly McCain, a former Canterbury player, should lead Saddlebrook to another state berth.

* * *

CLASS 2A, REGION 3

WHAT: Boys regional; winner advances to state

WHERE: Citrus

WHEN: Friday, 3 p.m.

TEAMS: Hudson vs. Citrus

OUTLOOK: These teams mirror one another. Both repeated as district champions and are strong at the lower seeds with Hudson holding a slight edge by winning in last year's regionals while Citrus was eliminated. Friday's match should come down to the top singles players: Irvin MacQuarrie and Brenden Conrad of Citrus and Marcus Ressler and Mark Hofmeyer of Hudson.

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