CASSELBERRY — Their final match lasted less than an hour.
None of the dozen or so fans who came to cheer Zephyrhills teammates Sarah Vandeberg and Chelsea Smith seemed extremely disappointed with the season’s end. After all, this Bulldogs duo, with district and region victories, had come closer to a state title than any in program history.
So after the girls lost 6-1, 6-1 in Class 2A to Jacksonville Stanton’s Laura Dedic and Rebecca Kitto, they gathered behind the court Tuesday and soaked in the state atmosphere for a few more minutes.
Then they turned to the positives — and the future.
“The first day we went in trying to win three games,” Bulldogs senior Chelsea Smith. “We ended up winning two sets and we actually won the match. It was exciting to win one round and make it to the semifinals.”
The Bulldogs duo was humbled by the strength of competition at state.
Vandeberg, a sophomore, was eliminated Monday in individual finals and left with a better idea of what she can personally do to make a return trip.
“I was here for the experience,” Vandeberg said. “To be able to play better players was fun. …I still have two more seasons so hopefully I’ll be able to come back here and do better.”
Zephyrhills coach Lorraine Hinkle sounded proud of the girls for what they accomplished for the program and the school.
“I thought (winning) district was a definite but I never thought we’d get to the semifinals in doubles at state,” Hinkle said. “I’m really happy with them for that.”
Today, attention turns to Class 3A action with Wiregrass Ranch’s girls team in action as well as River Ridge’s Nicola Wellman in individual singles, and the Bulls’ Spencer Ong and Eric Rivas.
Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 421-3886.