ST. PETERSBURG — As soon as the rain stopped Tuesday morning, plant operators at Boca Ciega headed to the school’s tennis courts. Armed with three wet vacs, two squeegees, three brooms and a leaf blower, crew members worked furiously to get the courts ready for the afternoon’s Class 2A regional against Tampa Catholic.
Their hard work paid off.
The Pirates won three of five singles matches and downed the Crusaders 4-3. Boca Ciega will have a day’s rest before hosting the winner of today’s Jesuit vs. Sarasota Booker match on Thursday.
Dan Stefan got things started for the Pirates by defeating Richard Golinello 6-1, 6-2. Stefan, who won the district championship at No. 1 singles and is the defending Class 3A state champion, is 13-0 this season.
Nikita Goldenberg, a transfer from Admiral Farragut, won his No. 2 match for the Pirates, defeating Luke Boyer 6-1, 6-2. Boca Ciega won at No. 3 singles as well ,with Richard Mannion defeating Jake Keyser 6-0, 6-2.
Tampa Catholic picked up two points at Nos. 4 and 5 singles. Harrison Winter and Britt Logan both won 6-0, 6-1.
Needing only one win in the two doubles matches, Boca Ciega’s Stefan and Goldenberg took care of business, defeating Golinello and Boyer 6-2, 6-1. The duo (11-0) had already qualified for the individual state tournament.
“We seem to have good chemistry,” Goldenberg said. “We have to communicate a lot in doubles, and we’ve been doing that all season.”
Added coach Kelley Hixson, with a laugh: “They are both ornery and mean on the court. They both have big serves and hit it hard.”
Though No. 2 doubles were just a formality, Tampa Catholic’s Keyser and Logan defeated Mannion and Nathan Larkins 6-3, 6-4.