WESLEY CHAPEL — Even after clinching Wednesday’s biggest match, Newsome freshmen Julia Staddon and Maddie Haggbloom weren’t sure what they had done.
They didn’t celebrate until their coach finally told them their victory in the No. 2 doubles semifinals lifted them past host Wiregrass Ranch and clinched the Wolves’ Class 4A, District 5 title. The girls gave a slight cheer, traded high-fives and finally looked at the score sheet.
“I can’t believe the little freshmen did it,” Newsome coach Dave Peters said, “but they did.”
Newsome needed its stable of freshmen to earn the right to host Wharton in next week’s regional after its senior twins ran into stiff competition.
Savannah Ewing lost to defending state runnerup Star Makarome in No. 1 singles, and her twin, Alaina, was upset in the No. 2 singles final by Wiregrass’ Victoria Chavez, 6-1, 6-1. They combined to finish second to Makarome and Tiffany Garner in the top doubles match to score enough points to let the Wolves’ freshmen take over.
Staddon earned a 7-5, 6-2 win over Garner in No. 3 singles, and Connie Feeney earned a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory in No. 5 singles. Rimi Bargmon also knocked off the Bulls for a title in No. 4 singles.
The turning point came in No. 2 doubles, when Staddon and Haggbloom topped Wiregrass’ Julia Rodriguez and Marisa Hoffman in the semifinals to keep the Bulls from getting the crucial point they needed.
“That was the winner,” Peters said.
Staddon and Haggbloom finished second, to Plant City’s Lauren Michael and Clara McLeod. Wiregrass Ranch’s girls team will travel to Plant on Tuesday.
Plant City’s boys team is also headed to regionals and a Tuesday matchup with Wharton after sweeping runnerup finishes to place second, behind Wiregrass Ranch.
Harrison Heysek pushed defending state runnerup Courage Okungbowa but fell 7-5, 6-2 in No. 1 singles. Spencer Heysek placed second in No. 2 singles, and the pair reached the top doubles final but had to withdraw due to injury, giving Okungbowa and Agustin Moreno an automatic trip to state.
Jacob Cole, Kyle Cole and Austin Everett finished second in their singles divisions, and the Coles were runnerup in the other doubles final.
Wiregrass Ranch swept through its fourth consecutive district title and will host Plant on Tuesday.