Tennis: Wiregrass Ranch makes quick work of Lakeland, heads back to state
The wait was rough, but worth it for the Wiregrass Ranch boys tennis team. Having their region final match with Lakeland suspended due to darkness, the Bulls closed out the victory in quick fashion Friday afternoon when No. 1 doubles team Sebastian Castillo-Sanchez and Destiny Okungbowa finished off a 6-4, 6-4 victory to clinch a defeat of Lakeland.
"The waiting around was stressful," said Bulls coach David Wilson. "The guys warmed up together, and that was about a half hour. And it was over in about 2 1/2 minutes."
Wilson stressed the importance of the first point to his players, and Okungbowa won it with a scoring forehand down the alley. At 40-15 Castillo-Sanchez made a tremendous dive to get to a drop shot and knock it past Lakeland's duo.
After a celebration that included No. 2 doubles pair Jared Abrams and Lorcan Kavanagh, they finished their match against a Lakeland senior duo and the Dreadnaughts prevailed 6-3 in the second set for a final team score of 4-3 Bulls.
Wiregrass won the state title last year after sharing it in 2014, but this was supposed to be a rebuilding season. Instead the Bulls are 17-0 in dual matches. That format will be introduced at the state level this year, with the eight region finals paired up. Wiregrass opens Monday at 11 a.m. against Sarasota Riverview.
In past years players were entered in five separate brackets, and two for doubles, with a point for each victory and the state title going to whoever compiles the most wins. Now, the team that wins three separate dual matches will be the champ. On the downside the best player in the tournament could be on a team that loses its state quarterfinal match, and won't have the chance to compete for an individual crown.
"Whether it helps us out or not, I don't know, but it's bean team tennis all year long. This allows that to continue. Everybody will have the chance to contribute all the way through instead of the luck of the draw," Wilson said.