SARASOTA — Palm Harbor University’s girls tennis team has done some impressive things this season, winning conference and district titles and advancing past the first round of the Class 4A region tournament.
But the Hurricanes had trouble getting past an old nemesis Thursday, losing to Sarasota Riverview 4-2.
Still, the score reflects just how far PHU’s program has come in four seasons.
“We played them three and four years ago and they beat us pretty easily back then,” Hurricanes coach Irene Tharin said. “I think we surprised some people with how well we played.”
PHU’s Shannon Cruz won 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3 singles. Teammate Stephanie Miller came back from a 5-0 deficit in her second set to win 6-3, 7-6 at No. 5 singles The Hurricanes needed another win at No. 4 singles to force a tie and require No. 2 doubles to be played.
PHU’s Hannah Rahman came close but lost 7-6, 3-6, 6-2.
“We’re gaining some ground,” Tharin said. “We kept it close. I’m proud of the way we played.”
St. Petersburg’s boys also were dominant, going undefeated in the regular season. But it wasn’t enough to get past host Sarasota Riverview in the second round of the Class 4A region tournament.
The Green Devils fell behind after their top four singles players lost close matches. St. Petersburg rallied when Matt Kopelman won a tiebreaker 10-8 at No. 5 singles. The Green Devils’ No. 1 doubles team of Robert Dvorak and Dylan Sleszynski won an 8-6 pro set and the No. 2 doubles team won by injury default.
“It was tough early on and we fell behind,” St. Petersburg coach Todd St. Louis said. “But we were in each match and we did well coming back.”
Class A: Throughout the season, Shorecrest’s toughest matches have come against Bradenton St. Stephen’s.
Thursday was no different.
The Chargers had to win the last five matches, including both in doubles that ended simultaneously to win 5-2 in a second-round region tournament that lasted more than four hours.
Shorecrest advances to the state tournament as a team for the sixth straight season.
“We knew it was going to be difficult against St. Stephen’s,” Chargers coach Matt Litsky said. “We won by three points in the regular season and by two in districts. This match was almost the same as it was in districts.”
Once again, Shorecrest lost its first two singles matches. At No. 3 singles, Peter Litsky won 6-2, 6-4. Logan Elder followed with a 6-4, 6-3 victory at No. 4. The Chargers took the lead when Brendan East won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5.
But it was not until the No. 1 doubles team of Nick Litsky and Alex Saltiel won 6-4, 6-2 and the No. 2 doubles of Peter Litsky and East won 7-6, 6-3 that Shorecrest was able to secure the team championship.
“We won because of our depth,” Matt Litsky said. “It showed with wins in singles at No. 3, 4 and 5. And doubles are so important.”