TAMPA — Bianca Roberts’ first trip to the Class A-8 girls No. 1 singles championship was anything but easy.
The Academy of the Holy Names senior wasn’t helped by the randomly selected at-large seeding draw, which forced Roberts to play an extra match to reach the final.
And after winning a pair of 2½-hour matches on the first day of competition, she prevailed in an 8 a.m. semifinal before facing Academy at the Lakes’ Victoria Chavez under the late-morning sun. Jaguars coach Jonathan Collazo kept his top player hydrated with coconut water and papayas.
So it was fitting that Roberts prevailed in a 3½-hour marathon final. Despite losing her first set, Roberts came back to win a break-filled second set and beat Chavez 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 to cap a Holy Names singles draw sweep and seal the Jaguars’ second straight district title.
“I was just dead, so to come out here and play like that, physically it was tough,” said Roberts, who will play at Nova Southeastern. “You’ve got to stay there mentally. If you’re there mentally, you can do anything. That’s what I kept saying to myself.
“It’s senior year. You’ve got to go for all of it or go home. It’s tough when you lose the first set. I just knew I wanted it more than she did. I was going to get it.”
Holy Names eighth-grader Caroline Lozo and seventh-grader Paige Leavy won at Nos. 2 and 3 singles, respectively, in straight sets, while juniors Christine Holcomb and Sarah Port won their finals at Nos. 4 and 5 in three sets. Leavy and Port also teamed up to win the No. 2 singles title.
“I give it to Bianca,” Collazo said. “She’s basically been the core of this team, from getting the girls ready before matches to keeping them all together and just working really hard on her game and playing smart.”
It was also a good day for Carrollwood Day’s Fitz-Randolph family. Patriots No. 1 singles player Eric Fitz-Randolph qualified for the state tournament by winning the boys title, beating Berkeley Prep’s Zach Ayers, while the girls No. 1 doubles team of Jacquelyn Fitz-Randolph and Lauren Fitz-Randolph qualified for states with a district title.
The Tampa Prep boys came into the second day behind Berkeley Prep by one point, but the Terps beat the Bucs in five out of six head-to-head matches Thursday.
Tampa Prep, which lost to Berkeley twice in the regular season, needed to win just one of two doubles finals, and Tampa Prep’s No. 1 team of Patrick Stewart and Alan Williams sealed the district team title with a hard-earned 7-5, 6-3 victory. Stewart and Williams trailed 3-0 in the first set and were a point away from losing the opening set before rallying.
“It was just an adrenaline rush, knowing we had to win this thing,” Williams said. “We focused on getting the next shot back and worrying about everything else later.”
Tampa Prep wins by No. 3 Ralph Grauer, No. 4 Wes Merritt and No. 5 Dan Palmer rallied the Terrapins. Berkeley’s Nikita Leonov won the No. 2 singles title in straight sets.