LAND O’LAKES — With the final team match of his high school career complete, there was nothing for Land O’Lakes tennis star Colin Roller to do but give his teammates high fives and words of thanks.
“This is something to be proud of,” Roller told the Gators after their 4-2 loss to Gainesville in Thursday’s Class 3A, Region 3 final.
The Hurricanes dominated the day to advance to next week’s state tournament. Gainesville sealed Land O’Lakes’ loss with an 8-0 victory in No. 2 doubles.
“We lost to a great team today,” Gators coach Jasalyn Gerazounis said.
Land O’Lakes dropped three of its top four singles matches. Freshman David Dollbaum lost to Gainesville’s four-star junior, Zachary Goldberg, 6-1, 6-1. Chris Mo took one game in a No. 3 singles loss, and Eric Lee fell 6-4, 6-1 in No. 4 singles.
Roller remained the Gators’ star. Against four-star prospect Cole Fiegel, Roller breezed to a 6-3 win in the first set before faltering in the second. He lost three of the first four games and trailed 5-4 before coming back.
Roller, an East Carolina recruit, blasted three aces to tie the set at 5 and stole the next two games to remain undefeated. Roller advances to next week’s state tournament in singles and also qualified in doubles with Dollbaum.
Sophomore Tyler Sanders claimed the win in No. 5 singles after his opponent retired with an injury.
Gerazounis said she was proud of her team’s development after returning only a handful of players. Roller is the team’s only senior.
“Just to make it here is positive,” Gerzounis said. “It’s one step farther than we made it last year.”
Class 2A: Pasco's stellar run reaches end
DADE CITY — Pasco’s school-record run in boys and girls tennis fell one round shy of what could have been the first state berth for either team as both lost in the Class 2A, Region 3 final. The boys lost 5-0 to Gainesville Eastside at Zephyrhills before the girls were edged at home, 4-3 against Crystal River.
Three-time district champion Crystal River advanced to the state tournament for a second straight year.
Pirates boys coach Mikey Wilks and girls coach Dan Charlick lauded their teams for record runs that included matching 15-2 records, sharing district titles and region semifinal victories in the same season. For the boys, it marked their first district title and first playoff win.
“You’re never upset getting into the final,” Wilks said. “It was a great year. It’s finally nice to see good things happening.”
Added Charlick, “I’m losing four seniors and it was one heck of a run.”
Trailing Crystal River 3-1, Pasco bounced back with Sarah McCord’s No. 5 singles comeback win, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 over Veronica Williams, and at No. 2 doubles with Mady Johnson and Norah Taylor teaming up for a 6-4, 6-3 win over Nikki Moynihan and Jessica Reynolds.
Taylor had Pasco’s other win in singles play, defeating Reynolds 6-2, 6-4 at No. 4.
The outcome was decided in No. 1 doubles with Pasco’s Rebecca Pelham and Amanda Dempsey losing 6-4, 6-2 to Crystal River’s Kayla Papp and Ashley Allen.
“Every match we’ve had this year has just about come down to the wire,” Charlick said. “That’s the way it’s been all year — down to the last minute, the last game.”
Steve Lee, Times correspondent