BROOKSVILLE — When rain pushed Tuesday’s Class 2A regional into Wednesday, Nature Coast didn’t know it would get a special spectator in the crowd.
The Sharks, who entered the day tied with Wesley Chapel, came through with a decisive 5-2 victory with Irmelin Toftegaard, mother of former teammate Simon Toftegaard, looking on.
Nature Coast’s players wear Simon’s name and No. 17 on the back of their shirts. Toftegaard, who went undefeated last season, died last summer in an automobile accident.
“Irmelin Toftegaard came out to give us some inspiration,” Nature Coast coach Tom Brown said. “Last year, (Simon) carried us on his back by going 17-0, so we decided to put him on our backs this season.”
Zenon Kouts (17-1), Nature Coast’s No. 3, defeated Cameron Roth (13-1) in the tightest singles match.
After winning the first set 6-4 Tuesday, he fell 6-1, then rebounded to win the last set 6-4 Wednesday.
His momentum continued into a doubles win with partner Andrew Lund over Salman Dewji and David Santa Cruz, 6-2, 7-5.
The other doubles match was even more entertaining. Wesley Chapel’s Yuya Burkhart and Roth won the first set 6-3 and were up 5-2 in the second before Tyler Schwefringhaus and David Cross came roaring back, taking the final sets 7-5 and 6-4.
Derek LaRiviere, Times correspondent