With the tennis season two days old, one question overrides others:
Where did everyone go?
• Northeast’s Danielle Collins, the Times’ 2010 girls player of the year, will not be back to defend her Class 3A overall singles title. She decided to concentrate on events in USTA, where she is ranked No. 1.
• Gibbs’ Akilah James, who won the Class 3A No. 1 singles state title, has graduated.
• St. Petersburg Catholic lost its top girls players from last year’s team that finished second overall in Class A. Four graduated and Julia Jones decided not to play.
• St. Petersburg lost Agatha Ambrozy, who is also focusing on USTA events.
The mass exodus of players, particularly on the girls side, makes this season as wide open as it has ever been.
The Green Devil girls will still be strong, led by No. 1 player Emily Dvorak, who will be among the front runners for player of the year honors. Seminole also returns Julia Sikorski, who helped the Warhawks win a district title last season.
The boys side has a few more familiar faces. St. Petersburg’s Edward Corty, the Times’ 2010 boys player of the year, is back and headlines a deep team that will be among the county’s best. Dunedin returns Michael Beiler, who beat Corty in singles play Monday. Shorecrest also will be strong with Garrett Betsarakis and Alex Saltiel.
Boys to watch
Michael Beiler, Dunedin: The Gulf Coast signee is a two-time defending district champion for singles and doubles.
Garrett Betsarakis, Shorecrest: Playing at No. 1 he led the Chargers to a seventh-place finish at state last season.
Edward Corty, St. Petersburg: Won 2010 singles title at state and did not drop a match during the regular season.
Alex Saltiel, Shorecrest: After missing the postseason because he was playing in another amateur tournament, Saltiel is back as the Chargers’ No. 2 player.
Ricky Symanski, Clearwater Central Catholic: Beat Betsarakis at districts last season and in first match of the regular season this week.
1. St. Petersburg: Deepest team in the county went undefeated in the regular season last year and won third straight district title.
2. Shorecrest: Solid 1-2 punch at the top of their lineup has Chargers in good position for strong showing at state.
3. Dunedin: Could advance to regionals again with a solid returning five.
4. Palm Harbor University: Young team should challenge St. Petersburg for postseason berth.
5. Canterbury: There are enough returners to make second straight playoff appearance.
Girls to watch
Jabaylla Asante, Dunedin: After taking a year off, she returns to become Falcons’ top player.
Natalie Boruk, Countryside: In a tough district, Boruk will be counted on to keep her team in contention.
Emily Dvorak, St. Petersburg: Led her team to region final and qualified for state in doubles.
Cailynn Madsen, Seminole: After a strong freshman season, she could become one of the Warhawks’ top two players this year.
Julia Sikorski, Seminole: Won a district title and reached the individual singles final at state in her first season.
1. Seminole: An influx of talent last season will keep the Warhawks on top in conference and district standings.
2. St. Petersburg: Though a few players are gone, the Green Devils still have enough to contend for postseason titles.
3. Largo: After finishing as district runnerups the past five seasons, the Packers have a veteran team poised for a breakthrough.
4. Shorecrest: Will still be counted on to be the best among county private schools.
5. St. Petersburg Catholic: Fresh faces will come together by the end of the season.
Class 4A, District 5: Alonso, Countryside, Gaither, Mitchell, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Sickles
Class 3A, District 7: Clearwater, Dunedin, East Lake, Osceola, Seminole, Tarpon Springs
Class 3A, District 8: Boca Ciega, Dixie Hollins, Gibbs, Lakewood, Largo, Northeast
Class 2A, District 10: Academy of the Holy Names, Jesuit, Lennard, Robinson, St. Petersburg Catholic, Spoto, Tampa Catholic
Class A, District 10: Admiral Farragut, Calvary Christian, Canterbury, Clearwater Central Catholic, Indian Rocks Christian, Keswick Christian, Northside Christian, Shorecrest