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Region tennis roundup: Short-handed Wiregrass Ranch prevails

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Tue. April 7, 2015 | John C. Cotey | Email

WESLEY CHAPEL — With its two best players more than 2,200 miles away, defending state champion Wiregrass Ranch went into its region semifinal against Venice on Tuesday with no margin for error.

“We knew coming in we had to win No. 2, 3 and 4 singles and No. 2 doubles,” Bulls coach Dave Wilson said. “That was the way to victory.”

And that was exactly what happened.

Alejandro Feliciano, who usually plays at No. 4, moved up to No. 2 and won 6-2, 6-2, keying a 4-3 victory for the Bulls.

“I thought Alejandro’s victory was key,” Wilson said. “That kid he beat is pretty good and to do it 2 and 2, that swung things towards us winning this.”

Sebastian Castillo moved up from No. 5 to 3 singles and won 6-0, 6-1, while Daniel Moreno won at No. 4 by a 6-1, 6-1 score.

The Bulls went into doubles needing just one win to keep their season going, and Castillo and Moreno delivered, getting a big break of serve at 3-2 in the first set and coasting from there 6-3, 6-1.

The Bulls, who tied with Barron Collier for last year’s Class 3A state championship, played without defending No. 1 singles state champion Agustin Moreno and No. 2 champion Pedro Fernandez, who are in California at the prestigious Easter Bowl.

The Wiregrass Ranch girls also posted a victory, beating Braden River 4-0.

The Wiregrass girls picked up wins by Victoria Chavez at No. 1 singles (6-1, 6-0), Tiffany Garner at No. 3 (6-2, 6-0), Dominique Dozier at No. 4 (6-0, 6-0) and Jo’hida Pierre at No. 5 (6-1, 6-0).

More Class 3A

King sweeps: Joy Ye would start for just about every tennis team in Hillsborough County, but on the talented King squad she spent most of the season on the sidelines.

Feeling a bit badly for Ye, not to mention feeling she might be of help Tuesday, Lions coach Jennifer Patterson put her on the No. 2 doubles team alongside Alexa Panganiban. Naturally, King’s region fate ended up resting on the result of that match.

And after 21/2 high-quality hours, there was indeed joy for the Lions. Ye and Panganiban edged Celebration’s Madyson Pickrem and Hanna Wagner 3-6, 6-0, 7-5 for a King 4-3 victory.

“She was our secret weapon,” said Panganiban, who had numerous duels with Pickrem and ended the match with a sliced volley that barely dropped over the net.

Ye had only played doubles twice all season, and singles three times.

“I was really nervous. But I just want to play,” said Ye, who pounded away at her forehand as the match went on.

Celebration had an outstanding one-two duo in Alex Tucker and Caitlin Ayoub, who collected all three points and dropped just three games between them in singles. King, however, got wins at the other three singles posts, straight-setters by Kathy Tian, Robyn Medicielo and Megan Zheng. It was 3-2 heading into doubles and though Sneha Sathish and Tian produced a close second set (6-4), it was clear the other doubles match would determine the outcome.

“This was a more accurate representation of what it’s like at the state tournament,” Sathish said. “We needed an opponent like this.”
The King boys notched a 5-0 victory against Bartow. No.  1 Vianesh Bhethanabotla did not drop a game, and No. 2 Nick Miljus secured the victory with an ace for the 4-0 lead. A match that took longer than those two combined, and ended the afternoon, was No. 4 Ben Geller’s comeback three-setter. Aaron Wang and Rohit Chari were challenged but won in straight sets.

Other results: Lakeland swept Hillsborough, with the boys losing 4-3 and the girls 5-0. At Lakewood Ranch, Robinson’s girls fell 5-2. The boys lost 5-0 at Sarasota.

Class 4A

Steinbrenner moves on: The Steinbrenner boys made school history last week, winning their first district title. They got one step closer to their first region title with a 5-2 win over visiting Seminole at Hunter’s Green.

After leading 3-2 in singles, Steinbrenner swept both doubles. Sebastian Rivera and Jordan Mark defeated Matt Madsen and Cole Walters 6-2, 6-3. It took a tiebreaker set for the Warrior tandem of freshman John Pfingsten and Hunter Hall to set down Skyler Fanning and Jasen Norris, 6-4, 3-6, 10-7. The Rivera-Mark team already had advanced to state after winning the district title. Warriors coach Lea Orchard led a doubles team to state for the third straight year; her first two were at Chamberlain.

Rivera won 6-2, 6-0 over Madsen at No. 1 singles; Mark won 6-0, 6-1 over Walters at No. 2. The Warhawks came back with wins at No. 3 and 4, with Fanning beating Pfingsten 6-1, 6-3 and Norris beating Ben Tkacik 6-1, 7-5. Hall won 6-1, 6-0 over Dylan Hartog at No. 5. At one point during the doubles matches, the Warriors led the team score 3-2, and both doubles matches were 3-2 in Steinbrenner’s favor. As the Warhawks started to struggle with their first serves late in each of the two sets, the Warriors pounced.

“(When the opponent is hitting first serves) it’s a big confidence booster, it enables you to step in on the ball more and really crush them,” Mark said.

As for team chemistry?

“We (Waters and Madsen) have been friends for years. Ever since we started playing together, we play well, we communicate well and we feed of each others’ strengths.” Rivera said.

Countryside girls romp: The Cougars (15-0) made short work of Steinbrenner, 4-0. They won the Nos. 2-5 singles matches to clinch the match. The No. 1 singles match between Shannon Wagner and Courtney Hebard was declared a draw since Countryside clinched before that match finished. At No. 2 singles, Rehaana Butt won 6-1, 6-1, Ava Sowell 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3, Monica Diaz 6-0, 6-1 at No. 4 and Katie Ernst 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5.

Other results: Newsome’s boys topped Orlando Freedom, while the girls fell to Orlando Dr. Phillips. The Plant boys lost 4-0 to Sarasota Riverview, while the Panther girls won 4-1.

Times staff writer Rodney Page and correspondents Andy Warrener and Darek Sharp contributed to this report.

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