Region tennis: Nature Coast girls earn rare state berth
SPRING HILL – While this season marked the first time that Nature Coast had even reached the postseason since 2012, the Shark girls are now headed to the state championships for only the second time in school history.
Nature Coast showed its resolve, bouncing back in more than one match on Thursday afternoon before emerging with a 4-1 team win over Tarpon Springs in the Class 2A region finals at Delta Woods Park.
“We’re such a young team, and I’m just so happy these girls are able to have this experience,” Nature Coast coach Kristine Brown said. “This group showed so much resiliency this year, and it’s continued in the playoffs.”
In No. 1 singles action, Angela Cabahug (9-11) seemed in control when she won the first set over Tarpon Springs standout Candice Woodruff, but the Spongers senior bounced back with a 6-4 win in the second set. The junior was able overcome the momentum switch and take the third set 10-7, giving the Sharks the first of what ended up being four very close matches.
In contrast, the No. 2 singles contest was not close as Sharks junior Nicole Remedio (13-7) took a straight-set (6-1, 6-1) win over senior Clivonya Woodside, giving Nature Coast a two-match advantage.
Cali Quaglia got one back for the Spongers in No. 3 singles. A tight 7-5 first set led to a two-set victory for the Spongers sophomore over Nature Coast’s Sierra Remondelli (18-3). The Sharks sophomore came into the postseason with only one loss in the regular season, but she has run into some difficult competition the past two rounds.
However, the suspense seemed to come down the Nos. 4 and 5 singles matches. Nature Coast junior Mackenzie Vraspir (20-1) emerged with a difficult 6-4 win in her first set against sophomore Olivia Stokely. The young Sponger did not surrender and began the second set by going up 4-1. During a trip to the fence to speak with her coach, Vraspir was still confident.
“She looked at me and said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got this,’” Brown said. “She never loses her positive attitude.”
As good as her word, Vraspir worked her way back point at a time before clinching the match with a 7-5 second set final.
“I’ve been in that situation before,” she said. “I’m a fighter, so I knew I could dig deep.”
The clinching match came down to No. 5 Beatrice Roseus (14-6). The Shark freshman looked experienced beyond her years, shining despite some adversity. She breezed to a 6-1 win in the first set over junior Jill Foster, but the Spongers veteran bounced back on the strength of her serve to take the second set 6-2.
Unforced errors reared their ugly head in the decisive set with Roseus topping Foster 10-6 to clinch her match and a region title for Nature Coast.