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These things are not supposed to happen. Outsiders are allowed to entertain us the first day of the state tennis tournament by giving fits to the big boys.
Then they are supposed to get out of the way of the so-called elite programs, the collectors of nationally ranked players.
Shorecrest, though, hung around.
The Chargers made a name for themselves, keeping their best season in recent memory alive by advancing to the finals in two singles matches and to the semifinals in both doubles matches in the Class A tournament Monday.
And there were moments, most of them fleeting, when the improbable seemed almost possible. Shorecrest, a team some believed did not stand a chance, was within striking distance of its first team championship.
But Shorecrest had to concede the boys title before stepping onto the court Tuesday.
Weston Sagemont, a team full of top-notch players, breezed through Monday’s matches and already had the championship wrapped up.
Instead, the focus for the Chargers was on winning individual matches. All Shorecrest had to do was win one of its five matches to secure second place overall.
That was a tough task considering the Chargers faced Sagemont in four of them. No. 1 Garrett Betsarakis and No. 5 Logan Elder each lost in the finals. And the No. 2 doubles team of Nick Litsky and Brendan East lost in the semifinals.
So it was up to the No. 1 doubles team of Betsarakis and Alex Saltiel to pull through. They did with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Miami Ransom Everglades’ Mathew Saiontz and Jeffrey MacKenzie.
Betsarakis and Saltiel lost in the finals to Sagemont but their semifinal victory moved Shorecrest into the runnerup spot, the highest finish in school history.
“They all played very well,” Chargers coach Matt Litsky said. “We made it to three finals in singles and doubles. And we needed to win one match to get second and we did.”
Meanwhile for the Shorecrest girls, the No. 1 doubles team of Kathryn Komarnicki and Savanna Roy lost in the semifinals to Carrollwood Day’s sister act, Jacque and Lauren Fitz-Randolph, 6-1, 6-2.
Class 3A boys: For the first time in his career, Dunedin’s Michael Beiler was playing in the finals. But it took less than 90 minutes for Beiler’s undefeated season to end as Lakeland’s Danny Mack won 6-1, 6-2 in No. 1 singles with a flurry of merciless groundstrokes that filled in the corners of the court. It was grace over grind, fluidity over force.
“(Mack) played a near-perfect match,” Beiler said. “He kept me on the run the whole match.”
Mack dictated the pace from the baseline and made virtually no unforced errors.
“It was a tough one,” Beiler said. “But it was still a great high school season. Now, I’m looking forward to college tennis.”
Class 3A girls: The good vibes for Largo continued as its No. 1 doubles team of Kelly Taylor and Artemis Makris beat Naples’ Barron Collier’s Laura Morgan and Lindsey Raymond in the semifinals. In the championship match, Taylor and Makris lost to Tallahassee Leon’s Caroline Shafer and Mary Smith 6-1, 6-1. Leon also won the team title. The Packers finished fifth, one point out of fourth.
“It was a great showing,” coach Mike Pease said. “We went hoping to win a district title. We did that and more. The girls had a taste of what the state tournament is like and they’re all coming back.”