By FRANK PASTOR, SCOTT PURKS, STEVE LEE, PETE YOUNG and BOB PUTNAM
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 21, 2001
Short-handed King clobbers Plant City
Despite having to sub for injured Dianna Ford at No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles, King had little trouble with Plant City in the Class 3A, Region 6 playoff Friday at Whiteway Courts.
The Lions won the first six matches in straight sets and the second doubles match in pro sets to earn a berth in the state tournament Tuesday and Wednesday at Sanlando Park.
Ford tore a calf muscle during the Western Conference tournament. Her replacement at No. 3 singles, junior Amruta Deshponde, defeated Sandy Latimer 6-3, 6-2.
Christiane Warwas, an exchange student from Germany, and Michelle Mathieson beat Chancie Housholder and Sandy Latimer 8-4 in pro sets at No. 2 doubles.
King freshmen Linda Tien and Linda Fiorica won at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, respectively. Warwas (No. 4) and Megan Shute (No. 5) also won singles matches. Tien and Fiorica defeated Christina Genualdi and Kerry Garner at No. 1 doubles.
King returns to the state tournament for the first time since 1998, when Ford was a freshman and Tien's sister, Caroline, won a state title at No. 4 singles.
The Lions finished third overall that season. -- FRANK PASTOR
TAMPA -- Tampa Catholic advanced to the state tournament for the first time in school history, and it said it is packing plenty of perspective.
"We know we're not one of the team favorites to win the team title, but that doesn't mean we won't go up there for some good competition," Crusaders No. 1 player Miranda Gutierrez said. "We're going to play hard and enjoy ourselves. It will be a great way to end a great year for us."
Tampa Catholic advanced by winning 6-1 over Lakewood at the Palmer Tennis Academy.
Except for a hard-fought, three-set loss at No. 5 singles, TC had its way.
Gutierrez, a sophomore who lost in last year's individual semifinals, said she is hoping for better results this time when play begins Monday in Jacksonville.
"I know the competition is great at the state tournament, and that's what I'm looking forward to," Gutierrez said.
"I'm confident that we'll all perform well up there." -- SCOTT PURKS
WESLEY CHAPEL -- Even without Duke signee Kelly McCain, Saddlebrook's girls team had no problem dispatching Canterbury on Friday.
McCain forfeited her No. 1 singles match due to a strep throat, but Natalie Tirapelle's win was the only one for Canterbury as Saddlebrook won 4-1, defeating Canterbury for the second consecutive year. Saddlebrook's boys team also defeated Canterbury for the second year in a row 4-1. Both Saddlebrook teams advanced to the state tournament for the second consecutive season. Last year, the boys finished second and the girls fourth.
Asked if McCain would be ready for next week's tournament, coach Dave McCain, her father, said, "She'll be all right. She's got an excellent chance of winning it."
If his daughter is too sick to compete, McCain said he would insert Miko Enomota. Like coach McCain, Saddlebrook boys coach Chris Johnson said he believes his team is a contender for what would be the first title -- girls or boys -- in school history.
"This is kind of their last hurrah," Johnson said of seniors Ben Ureta, Jeff Guerry, Alex Gerschel and Sam Sutherland. "They want to put it all together."
With both Saddlebrook squads holding commanding leads, no doubles matches were played. In the girls match, No. 2 Emily Sechaud, No. 3 Diana Vinis, No. 4 Ashley Cox and No. 5 Marrisa Simmons won decisively after Kelly McCain forfeited.
Canterbury's lone boys victory came in No. 3 singles with Marcus Carlson edging Gerschel 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4).
In another close match, Guerry defeated Marc Sawyer in No. 2 singles 6-7 (2-7), 6-2, 6-0.
"(Guerry) really dominated in the third set," coach McCain said.
"He came back strong."
No. 1 Ureta, No. 4 Sutherland and No. 5 Leonard Gullan also won singles matches. -- STEVE LEE
CLEARWATER -- Countryside and Clearwater became friendly this season as the two teams often rode the same bus to matches.
Friday, the Cougars treated the Tornadoes like mortal enemies. Countryside avenged its only defeat of the season with a 7-0 whitewashing in the Class 3A, Region 5 match at McMullen Tennis Center.
The Cougars advance to the 3A state tournament Wednesday through Friday at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.
"We were just trying to play as well we could and advance to state," said first-year Countryside coach John Williams, who coached Clearwater from 1978 to 1981. "You never expect a sweep."
When the schools first met Feb. 19, a 4-3 Clearwater win, Countryside was without No. 1 Jennifer Dent and No. 2 Evangelina Soriano, who were playing in a national tournament. Friday, Dent and Soriano, both juniors, lost a combined two games -- in singles and doubles.
Freshman Anastasiya Sokolova, senior Jennifer Watts and junior Heather Frank also won in straight sets. Watts and Dent teamed up at No. 1 and Soriano and Sokolova were paired at No. 2 as the Cougars didn't lose a game in doubles.
"We were fortunate today that everyone showed up healthy and played well," Williams said. -- PETE YOUNG
PALM HARBOR -- Palm Harbor University will not be going back to the state tournament this season.
Sarasota Riverview made sure of it.
The Rams won four of the five singles matches to make it to state.
The day started out tough for the host Hurricanes as Sarah Buchanan lost in a tiebreaker in No. 1 singles, 6-4, 7-6 (11-9). Huldah Dayton won at No. 2 singles, 6-1, 6-0 for Palm Harbor's lone win.
Last season, Sarasota Riverview knocked the Hurricanes out in the first round of the state tournament.
"We knew they were going to be tough," Palm Harbor coach Chris Anderson said. "We had some close matches early, things didn't go our way and it just kind of snowballed from there. It was tough for the girls, because they wanted to make it back. But we still had a good season. We were 14-1 and won districts." -- BOB PUTNAM