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Cougar, Eagle fall short in overall 3A state finals

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 28, 2001


ALTAMONTE SPRINGS -- Countryside's Jennifer Dent and East Lake's Ryan Buchanan lost in their attempts to win Class 3A overall singles titles Friday morning at Sanlando Park.

Dent lost to Choctawhatchee's Jolyn Taylor 6-1, 6-3. Buchanan lost to Naples Lely's Jesse Witten 6-4, 6-1. Dent and Buchanan were No. 1 singles champions in the team competition. Taylor and Witten were champions in the individual tournament.

Buchanan, a sophomore, knew he was in for a tough match before he stepped onto the court. Witten is ranked third in the state and fourth nationally for 18-year-olds. But Buchanan hung with Witten in the first set before faltering in the second.

"I knew it was going to be tough," Buchanan said. "All I knew was that he was ranked third. I'd never played him before. All I wanted to do was hold serve and try to break him. He's got a monster serve.

"It was a good tournament for me, though. I didn't expect to do that well."

Dent, a junior, didn't play her best match of the tournament. Fatigue might have been a factor. She played three matches Thursday, one singles and two doubles.

Dent had several unforced errors, and Taylor didn't help with her consistent baseline play.

"I would've liked to have played better," Dent said. "She's a good player. She was aggressive."

Dent, however, did leave with a state championship medal. Countryside won the Class 3A state title Thursday.

After Friday's match, Dent traveled to Jacksonville, where she will play in the prestigious Gator Bowl tournament.

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