District tennis: King flexes muscles for title sweep again

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Tue. April 2, 2013 | Bryan Burns

TAMPA — King’s boys and girls teams each won six of seven events Tuesday to capture both titles at the 3A-9 district tournament for the second year in a row in anticlimactic fashion.

Kiril Kirkov was victorious 6-0, 6-2 over Chamberlain’s Harrison Fisher at boys No. 1 singles to earn his second straight individual crown.

Victor Ke (No. 2 singles), Vignesh Bhethanabotla (3), Gregory Smith (4) and Hengyi Wu (5) also won singles titles for the Lions. Smith, in particular, was dominant, not dropping a game in three matches. He teamed with Bhethanabotla to win the No. 2 doubles title.

In the girls competition, King No. 1 Rachael Adler was also a repeat champion. She rolled over Strawberry Crest’s Shivani Arza 6-1, 6-0 in the final.

The Lions’ Sneha Sathish (2), Kathy Tian (4) and Jennifer Lin (5) were all singles champions.  The only non-King player to win a singles title came at No. 3, where Hillsborough’s Jayashwi Ramanathan scored a dominant 6-1, 6-0 win in the final.

The race for the team runnerup titles and a spot in the region draw provided the only drama on the Hillsborough Community College courts. On the boys side, Chamberlain and Hillsborough were tied for second going into the last match, the No. 1 doubles final.

With players from three teams watching intently, Chamberlain’s top team of Fisher and Hunter O’Brien outplayed King’s Kiril and Ke 6-3, 6-3 to give the Chiefs a second-place finish with 18 points, four behind King. Hillsborough (17) was third.

“I’m glad I didn’t know everything was on us,” O’Brien said. “We were already pretty nervous.”

Hillsborough and Strawberry Crest were neck-and-neck for the girls runnerup spot through the singles competition, but the Terriers’ performance in doubles pushed them over the top. The Terriers’ No. 1 doubles team of Manashwi Ramanathan and Jayashwi Ramanathan reached the finals, where they were ousted by King’s Adler and Sathish 7-5, 6-4.

Hillsborough’s No. 2 doubles team, Amanda Glenz and Dana Dinh, also made the finals before falling to King’s Lola Bakare and Tian 6-2, 6-1.

King finished with 20 points. Hillsborough (10) placed second, and Strawberry Crest (9) was third.

4A-6: Plant girls still make winning look easy

TAMPA — Class 4A, District 6 has been the Plant-Wharton show the past several years. None of that changed Tuesday afternoon at Hunter’s Green.

The Plant girls dominated, winning the top three singles and both doubles matches without dropping a set. Wharton was runnerup, placing girls in the Nos. 1 and 2 singles and doubles finals.

Panthers ace and Furman-bound Blair Martin cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles then paired with Gabby Rodriguez, who won at No. 3, to cruise to the doubles title. Martin and Rodriguez are defending state doubles champs.

“They have been unstoppable in doubles,” girls coach Margaret Drumsta said. “They read each other’s minds, they have fun, they keep it loose out there.”

The boys team competition was a nail-biter until the last point of the last match. Wharton took the lead when Sam Chaffin outlasted Plant’s Alec Josepher at No. 1 singles. It capped a three-match singles sweep for Wharton, but Alonso and Plant made late runs with their doubles teams. Alonso’s No. 2 doubles team of Gage Fox and Tate Buck beat Wharton’s Thomas Hwang and Cesar Maeda 13-11 in the third-set tiebreaker.

That set up a scenario where Alonso’s No. 1 doubles team could force a tie and a Wednesday playoff with Wharton. But Plant’s Josepher and Schuyler Welch had other ideas. After dispatching Alonso in the semis, the Plant boys knocked out Gaither 6-4, 6-1. Plant finished as team runnerup with Wharton winning out by a point.

“It’s this way (close score) traditionally,” Panthers coach Michael McWilliams said. “It usually comes down to the nitty-gritty between Wharton and Plant.”

Wildcat boys coach Scott Ware pointed out that four of the five finals he had athletes in went to three-set tiebreakers. The Wildcats’ Alex Crnogorac won 6-2, 3-6, 12-10 in the No. 2 final.

2A-10: Jesuit, Holy Names prevail

TAMPA — Which teams would advance from the 2A-10 district tournament was decided early. So Tuesday’s action at Hillsborough Community College was to settle if Jesuit and Academy of the Holy Names could pull off a sweep.

Jesuit did, although the runnerup Robinson boys made it challenging. Holy Names looked headed to its own perfect score, but in the final match Lakewood posted a win at No. 2 doubles.

The nine-team district turned into a Jesuit-Robinson duel. Tuesday’s best match came at No. 1 singles, where Jordan Nasser prevailed over Robinson freshman Michael Marinskiy 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. Nasser won the tiebreaker with a gutsy drop shot.

“That was definitely one of those, ‘No, no, okay … well done’ shots,” Jesuit coach Joe Curtis said.

David Pagliarulo faced a test in the No. 2 final but topped William Oken 6-3, 6-3. Enzo Peltz pushed Jesuit’s Palmer Evans to a 6-3 first set before Evans rolled 6-0 in the second, and at No. 4 Robinson’s Jaehee Choo rallied from down 5-1 but lost 7-5, 6-0 to Max Azzarelli.

“Robinson is very good,” Curtis said. “They would win most districts. I fully expect to see them next week at regionals.”

Holy Names’ 1-2 sophomore punch of Daniela Nasser and Caroline Lozo barely broke a sweat, hard to do on a 90-degree afternoon.

Neither dropped a game in singles, they teamed for a double-bagel over Tampa Catholic in the doubles semis then didn’t have to play the final because of an injury to Lakewood’s Raven Adams.

“I think we can go all the way to states and hopefully win more than a few matches when we get there,” Lozo said.

Lakewood finished with 10 points. Dunedin finished third, edging Robinson by a point (6-5).

Robinson had one player make the finals, Bianca Dyer at No. 2 singles.

AHN No. 3 Olivia Rivas’ 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 win over Dangar was the only three-set singles match of the day. Grayson Garraty topped Lakewood’s Angelica Williams 6-4, 6-1 at No. 5 and Grace Williams had a walkover in the No. 4 final due to because of Adams’ injury.

Correspondents Andy Warrener and Darek Sharp contributed to this report.

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