CASSELBERRY — Canterbury’s Evan Holvoet wasn’t sure he could make it to the Class A individual state tournament. In the district final, he faced Shorecrest’s Peter Litsky, an opponent he had never beaten.
Holvoet broke that streak and carried the momentum into this week’s state tournament. The unranked senior had to win four matches to earn the first-place medal. In the final Thursday afternoon at Red Bug Lake Park, Holvoet defeated Miami Country Day’s Shaun Berman 7-5, 6-1.
Holvoet said he played both matches Thursday with a sore back, which will prevent him from playing in today’s overall championship.
“I tried to play through it as best I could,” Holvoet said. “I motivated myself as much as possible and I guess it worked.”
Thanks to a powerful serve and ground strokes, Holvoet overcame a slow start to get past Berman, who was playing with a sore groin. The match’s final point was a long rally that Holvoet ended with a soft drop shot.
“I’m usually very aggressive and I get very excited on the court,” said Holvoet, who punctuated some shots with a loud “c’mon!”
“I have to motivate myself somehow or else I’ll get angry and throw my racket or something. I try to stay positive.”
Holvoet, who will attend Kennesaw State University in the fall to play tennis, said he’s most proud of being able to have his name put up in Canterbury’s gym as a state champion.
“I really wanted to medal,” Holvoet said. “I’d never done it before and this was my last chance.”
Largo’s Alexis Franco didn’t have as much luck.
The top seed was playing for an individual state championship in the Class 3A tournament at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, but lost to second-seeded Nikki Kallenberg of Naples 6-2, 6-4.
Franco and doubles partner Laurel Wanger — the No. 1 seeds — are still alive. They defeated Michelle Doan and Priyanka Shah of Lake Nona 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals, then toppled third-seeded Pensacola Washington’s Rebecca Hedrick and Geetha Velusamy 6-2, 6-3. The finals are this morning against Naples.
In the Class 3A boys tournament, Wiregrass Ranch won its first team title. The Bulls and Naples Baron Collier shared the title after each accumulated 15 total points. It is the first team championship in any sport for Wiregrass Ranch. Baron Collier has won six straight state titles.