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VALRICO — After two straight district titles, Wiregrass Ranch boys tennis coach David Wilson knew what was coming.
When players asked to check the time on his cell phone, he readied himself for the inevitable — a celebratory shower from the drink cooler.
The Bulls earned their third consecutive district crown — and first against Hillsborough County opponents — by winning four of the five singles championships and both doubles titles in Tuesday’s Class 4A, District 5 tournament at Riverhills Country Club.
“I don’t think I expected that,” Wilson said of his team’s performance.
Courage Okungbowa took his second consecutive title at No. 1 singles despite a slow start. He dropped the first game to Plant City’s Harrison Heysek but claimed the next 11 to cruise to a 6-1, 6-1 victory and clinch an automatic trip to state.
“I just kinda stayed patient,” said Okungbowa, who teamed with Eric Busch to earn a No. 1 doubles title.
Jaime Feliciano dropped the first set in No. 3 singles and trailed 3-0 in the third before rallying for a 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 win over Plant City’s Justin Keel.
Koustubh Ramesh and Okungbowa’s brother, Foresight, won the No. 2 doubles crown and added individual titles, too. Foresight took out Plant City’s Jacob Cole at No. 4 singles, and Ramesh overcame a sluggish second set to knock off the Raiders’ Spencer Heysek, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 at No. 2.
“I think he played the best match he’s played all year,” Wilson said.
Wiregrass’ girls also starred in their new district, edging Plant City 16-15 for the team title.
Freshman Star Makarome lived up to her name with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Durant’s Alexis Quinn to remain undefeated at No. 1. She and freshman Tiffany Garner also triumphed at No. 1 doubles.
“They didn’t give up,” coach Jewell Fye said.
Wiregrass senior Jordanyne Fye beat Plant City’s Anna Peterson 6-3, 6-1 in the No. 5 singles final, and Leilani Cubero and Kathryn Bonti finished runnersup at No. 2 doubles, falling to the Raiders’ Margaret Peterson and Taylor Ballantine in three sets.
Garner was second at No. 4 singles.
Class 3A, District 6: The Class 3A, District 6 tournament at River Ridge was supposed to take two days to settle, but the finishes were a little anticlimactic as neither the boys nor girls know which programs are walking away with team trophies yet.
Springstead, which has never won a boys district title in the school’s 35-year history, finished tied with Land O’Lakes on Tuesday.
The Gators won Nos. 1, 2 and 5 singles as well as the first doubles championship, while the Eagles won the Nos. 3 and 4 singles titles and second doubles championship. But Springstead advanced more players to the finals to gain a tie in the end in points.
“Springstead has never won a district title in tennis, so I’m just proud to get to this point,” first-year coach Joe Nicolai said. “The boys are really pushing themselves at this point. They believe in themselves, and I believe in them, too.”
Land O’Lakes senior Colin Roller (No. 1), freshman David Dollbaum (No. 2) and freshman Eric Lee (No. 5) were the singles champions and the tandem of Roller and Dollbaum won doubles. Roller, bound for East Carolina next year, was no surprise after reaching the state semifinals last season.
Springstead freshman Patrick Deslaurier (No. 3) and his brother, sophomore Henry Deslaurier (No. 4), won for the Eagles, while Trevor Whitmill and Henry Deslaurier took doubles. Whitmill and Deslaurier are 18-0 in doubles this season, while Patrick Deslaurier is 19-0 in his first varsity campaign.
While both teams will advance to the Class 3A, Region 3 tournament, the tiebreaker for the district title will be held Wednesday at River Ridge at 3 p.m.
On the girls side, Zephyrhills won without any debate, but there will be a tiebreaker Wednesday for the runnerup to see which program advances to regionals. Land O’Lakes, Leesburg and Central all tied for second at the end of Tuesday’s finals.
The Bulldogs were led by top-seeded senior Sarah VandeBerg, who is 16-1 this season after winning the district title. Sydney Owens and Hannah Ungerer won the No. 2 doubles for Zephyrhills to help the Bulldogs clinch the team crown.
Class 2A, District 6: Pasco swept the Class 2A, District 6 tournament with the boys claiming the program’s first title and the girls repeating as champions.
Unfortunately coach Mickey Wilks, who is on a European tour with students, was not around to see it. Fortunately, third-year assistant and interim boys coach Thomas Mitchell was.
“I know this is killing him,” said Mitchell, a 2009 graduate who played three seasons for the Pirates. “We’ll tell him as soon as he answers his phone.”
Nature Coast was the runnerup in the boys and girls competitions with the Pirates clinching the girls title by winning the No. 2 doubles match.
Last season, Pasco and Nature Coast were champions in opposing districts before the Sharks defeated the Pirates in the region quarterfinals.
“Double-dipping,” said Pasco coach Don Charlick, who coached that school’s 1994 team that went unbeaten in the regular season but was disqualified in districts.
In the decisive No. 2 doubles match that resulted in Pasco edging Nature Coast 17-15, Norah Taylor and Mady Johnson rallied for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Katie Viola and Christine Sniffen.
Nature Coast and Pasco split four singles finals with the last decided in the third set when Taylor defeated Viola 6-7, 6-1, 6-0 at No. 4 singles. Taylor attributed her comeback win to “just concentrating and being in shape.”
Added Charlick: “We do physical conditioning daily. The strong-willed prevailed.”
In singles play, Pasco’s Sarah McCord (No. 5) and Johnson (No. 2) won while Nature Coast’s victories came from Delanie McCabe (No. 1) and Sniffen (No. 3).
For the boys, Pasco claimed three of five singles finals with Josh Morris (No. 2), Christian Yann (No. 3) and Tim Dombrowski (No. 5) winning. Winning for Nature Coast were Zenon Kouts (No. 1) and Jesse Dewitt (No. 4).
There were four other finalists who were not from Pasco or Nature Coast. That group included Ridgewood’s Garret Williams, Dylan Disbro and Alex Dziedzic, along with Wesley Chapel’s Kelly Tanner.
Correspondents Steve Lee and Derek J. LaRiviere contributed to this report.