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Saddlebrook captures first state championship


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2001

WESLEY CHAPEL -- For the previous five years, Kelly McCain spent late April playing in the Easter Bowl, a highly competitive USTA tournament in Palm Springs, Calif.

This year, McCain opted to play in the Class A state tournament and led Saddlebrook Prep to its first state crown -- boys or girls -- in the school's six seasons.

Saddlebrook's girls won four of five singles finals as well as a doubles final for 17 points. Runner-up Miami Ransom Everglades had 11 points.

Saddlebrook's boys finished second for the second consecutive year, amassing 11 points to champion Boca Raton Prep's 21.

McCain, a senior, won the No. 1 singles team title Wednesday at Hillsborough Community College and teamed up with Emily Sechaud to win in No. 1 team doubles.

McCain plays Courtney Bergman of Boca Raton St. Andrew's for the overall singles crown at 9 a.m. today before she and Sechaud take on Boca Raton Prep's Meredith Fish and Susie Abroneit for the overall doubles title. "I'm pretty happy with that," McCain said of her two team titles, adding she enjoyed competing under the team format. "There are a lot more people depending on you."

No. 3 Diana Vinis, No. 4 Ashley Cox and No. 5 Marissa Simmons also won singles titles for Saddlebrook while Sechaud lost in the No. 2 final.

Saddlebrook's boys had four singles finalists. The Spartans' No. 2 doubles duo of Jeff Guerry and Alex Gerschel also made the final. But that pair, along with No. 2 Guerry, No. 3 Gerschel, No. 4 Sam Sutherland and No. 5 Leonard Gullan lost. "They all had good wins (Tuesday)," Saddlebrook coach Chris Johnson said of the semifinal victories. "They did a good job of getting the points we needed to be in second place. We came up short, but we're going to win a championship soon."

That will depend on if Saddlebrook's administration decides to continue fielding teams after rule changes by the Florida High School Activities Association go into effect for the 2003-2004 academic year. All high schools must field at least two teams per season, which targets private schools such as Saddlebrook that field only tennis and golf teams.

"We're talking about it now at Saddlebrook to see what we want to do," girls coach Dave McCain said.

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