CASSELBERRY — The Nature Coast boys tennis team wasn’t content being a participant at the Class 2A state tournament at Casselberry’s Red Bug Lake Park.
The Sharks wanted spectators to associate Nature Coast with a winning program after Wednesday’s state finals.
And although the Sharks picked up just one match win and one point during the tournament’s opening day, the players feel they achieved their goal.
“We didn’t just want to go to states, we wanted to go to states and make a mark,” Sharks junior Zenon Kouts said. “I think even though we won only one match, we did.”
Kouts, the second seed in the No. 4 singles bracket, was the lone Nature Coast player to win. He defeated Joshua Goldstein of Gulf Breeze 6-3, 6-4 in the first round despite blowing a hole in his shoe on the hot asphalt court.
“It’s the team that made me win,” said Kouts, who was told that the victory was the first at the state tournament in school history. “They’re the ones that always helped me, and they’re the ones that got me here. It’s not me, I can’t take credit for that. It’s the coach and the team. They support me nonstop.”
Kouts fell to Bishop Verot’s Quade Marinell 6-3, 6-0 in the semifinals.
Otherwise, the Sharks were shut out in their first team appearance at states since 2007. No. 1 singles player Tyler Schwefringhaus was blanked by Kapland Owens from Bishop Verot 6-0, 6-0. David Cross, playing in the No. 2 position, was defeated 6-3, 6-3 by Ponte Vedra’s Casey Austgen. Andrew Lund fell 6-0, 6-0 to Dominic Merkli from Bishop Verot at No. 3 singles, and Josh Weaver also dropped his match to an opponent from Bishop Verot, losing 6-0, 6-1 to Joseph Deleeuw, the No. 2 seed in the No. 5 singles bracket.
The Sharks were knocked out in the first round of doubles, too. Schwefringhaus and Cross were toppled 6-0, 6-2 by Ponte Vedra’s Connor Davis and Daniel Rush at No. 1 doubles. Kouts and Lund were the No. 2 seed in the No. 2 doubles bracket but were upset by Satellite’s Matthew Morris and Daniel Morris 6-3, 6-4.
In the Class 2A individual competition at Sanford’s Sylvan Lake Park, Land O’Lakes junior Colin Roller was seeded fourth in the singles bracket and easily dispatched Matthew Plumley of Bishop Moore 6-0, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. Roller was ousted in the semis, losing in three sets 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 to No. 1 seeded Roy Lederman of Pine Crest.
Roller and Gators teammate Harrison Luong earned a first-round bye in doubles but were defeated in their first match by Bishop Moore’s Plumley and Austin Comings 6-2, 6-1.
Also in individual play, Zephyrhills’ Sarah Vande Berg made it out of the first round of singles with a relatively easy 6-1, 6-1 win over Alex Barrett of Lely. Vande Berg exited in the quarterfinals after a tough loss to Steinbrenner’s Grace Korta 6-1, 6-7 (7-5), 6-0.
Vande Berg and Sydney Owens were beaten 6-0, 6-0 by Korta and Kaleigh Wagner from Steinbrenner.