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CRYSTAL RIVER — Nature Coast knew the task at hand and how tough it would be to complete. While the Sharks undoubtedly gave their best effort, it wasn’t enough in a 7-0 loss to Crystal River on Thursday in the region final.
Nature Coast pushed the Pirates to the brink in several matches, only to let its opponent wiggle away.
Rosie Witherell (No. 4 singles) and Christine Sniffen (No. 5 singles) each held big leads early but watched opponents Ashley Allen and Nikki Moynihan rally.
Witherell led 5-2 in the first set but ended up falling 7-6 (7-2) and never recovered in dropping the second set 6-1.
Similarly, Nature Coast’s Christine Sniffen led 4-0 in a pro set over Nikki Moynihan at No. 5 singles. Sniffen, who had beaten Moynihan this season, couldn’t hold the momentum and fell 8-5.
“It was a good match,” said John Downey, filling in for his wife, Nature Coast coach Louise Downey. “All of the girls played well. We knew Crystal River is a good team and it would be tough to beat them.”
The Sharks’ Mallorie Pickersgill (No. 1 singles) and Delanie McCabe (No. 2 singles) each lost in straight sets to Kristin Tringali (6-1, 6-0) and Rita Kerola (6-1, 6-3), respectively.
At No. 3 singles, Nature Coast’s Kaitlyn Bugden narrowly missed forcing a third set during an eventual 6-0, 7-6 (7-4) loss to Kayla Papp.
The doubles matches didn’t fare much better for the Sharks. Tringali and Kerola downed Pickersgill and McCabe 8-2 at the No. 1 spot while Papp and Allen dealt Bugden and Witherell an 8-5 setback at No. 2.