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BROOKSVILLE — The Nature Coast train to the state finals continued to hum quickly and quietly down the tracks Thursday afternoon as the Sharks dispatched Mitchell in short order.
Hosting the Class 2A region final, Nature Coast won the first four singles matches in straight sets to clinch the match.
Tyler Schwefringhaus (16-2), David Cross (14-2), Andrew Lund (15-3) and Zenon Kouts (17-1) led the way to victory for the Sharks (16-1), who have yet to lose to an in-class program this season. Kouts won his match 6-0, 6-0.
“We just have to play and win,” Kouts said. “If we do the best we can, this is our time.”
Cross beat Mitchell’s Hoang Nguyen 6-2, 6-0, while Lund handled Sterling Bash 6-0, 6-1.
Mitchell (8-4) received a strong effort from No. 1 seed Mitchell Page (6-8), who pushed Schwefringhaus hard in the second set after being shut out in the first. The hard-hitting junior refused to roll over before going down 6-0, 6-2.
“When we come to any match, we take it point by point,” Mitchell coach Karen Page said. “They are very tenacious.”
The Mustangs hadn’t even won a district title since 2002, so this is a new place for them. It will be the Sharks’ first appearance at state since 2007, a distinction sixth-year coach Tom Brown didn’t expect when he made it back then.
“Someone told me back then that making it to state was a rare thing,” Brown said. “It’s not that I didn’t believe him, but we have a good team, and I didn’t think it would take us four years.”