By SCOTT PURKS, ROD GIPSON and RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 21, 2001
Jesuit earns trip to state
TAMPA -- For the sixth consecutive year, Jesuit is going to the state tournament, hoping for something more than a runner-up finish, which is what the Tigers have come away with in their five previous trips. Jesuit earned its latest trip Friday following a 5-0 Class 2A, Region 5 victory over Dunedin at Hillsborough Community College. (The teams decided not to play the doubles matches.)
"I'd have to say our depth was too much for (Dunedin)," Jesuit coach Joe Curtis said. "Now we're going to state and it's going to get a little tougher."
Jesuit has won nine consecutive district titles and three consecutive regional titles. The past five years the Tigers have lost in the state team final to Cardinal Gibbons.
Tiger junior Ryler DeHeart, who beat Dunedin's Matt Rice 6-0, 6-0, returns as the 2A champion in No. 1 singles. Jesuit's No. 2 player, Taylor Ralph, captured a state title two years ago at the No. 3 singles position.
"To be honest, I thought we had a chance to win the state title the past five years," Curtis said. "This year, I like our chances because we're going in with four seniors and a junior, all of whom have state tournament experience." -- SCOTT PURKS
TAMPA -- In winning its first district title earlier this week, Gaither edged Hillsborough by one point. There were no such dramatics Friday as the Cowboys went up against powerhouse Fort Myers.
The more-experienced Green Wave jumped on the Cowboys early and brushed aside the few challenges Gaither provided en route to a 7-0 win at the Cheval Tennis Complex. Gaither, the District 5 champion, struggled throughout against Fort Myers, the defending 4A state champions. Fort Myers, which advanced to next week's state tournament, had slightly tougher matches at Nos. 1 and 3. No. 1 Reid Stubbs defeated Chris Huffer 6-2, 6-2 while Jared Kalpin won 6-2, 6-3 against Adam Bilzerian at No. 3. The Cowboys won only five games combined in the other three matches.
"(Fort Myers) is a strong team," Gaither coach Will Brimm said. "We knew that coming in. We won some games, played some good matches and scored some points. We knew they would be tough, but we still don't like losing. It just wasn't our day."- ROD GIPSON
TAMPA -- Skeptics might believe Plant doesn't have a chance at next week's state tournament, what with all the competition. "But," Plant's Nick Bass is quick to point out, "they haven't seen us yet."
Bass, Plant's top player, was ecstatic Friday because the Panthers had just sewn up the Class 3A, Region 6 title with a 6-1 thrashing of Plant City at Grady Courts.
"This is my first year playing with a (high school) team and it has been a lot of fun," Bass said. "Now I want to go as far as we can. I want to see how many (matches) we can possibly win."
Plant's No. 1 doubles team of Bass and Javier Martinez is expected to be one of the Panthers' strengths at state, but coach Matt Pfeiffer said his entire lineup has plenty to offer. Plant's No. 2, Eli Samaha, for instance, could play No. 1 for most teams.
"I just have a great group of guys," Pfeiffer said. "I know they'll play as hard as they can (at state). Then we'll just see how it all works out."
Plant begins play at state Wednesday in Altamonte Springs.- SCOTT PURKS
OLDSMAR -- East Lake brings a truck load of momentum into Wednesday's Class 3A state tournament in Altamonte Springs after a convincing 7-0 win over Seminole at East Lake Woodlands. The Eagles won all five singles matches, which made the doubles unnecessary, and remained unbeaten. "What did it for us was the way our No. 4 and 5 guys played," Eagles coach Bill Gunther said. "Those guys played very well."
Ezra Goldman won his No. 4 singles match over Ivan Bengston 6-1, 7-5. Daniel Brandeis won his No. 5 singles match over Chris Bulone 6-0, 3-6, 6-3. The best battle came at No. 1 singles. East Lake's Ryan Buchanan outlasted Fred Johnson 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in a 21/2-hour marathon. Adel Nasser won No. 2 over Aaron Kitenplon 6-4, 6-3. Dmitri Bubis beat Scott Forsman 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3. "We're all playing well right now," Bubis said. "This is the best time for us to be playing well." -- RODNEY PAGE