Land O’Lakes senior Colin Roller’s run at an individual singles state title ended in the semifinals for the second year in a row.
The East Carolina recruit lost to Cypress Lake’s Parker Woodall in three sets in Wednesday’s Class 3A tournament in Altamonte Springs.
“It was neck and neck the whole time,” Roller said.
Roller breezed to a 6-1, 6-1 victory in the quarterfinals. He used his strong serve, attacked the net and volleyed his way into the semifinals.
“It was a pretty simple match,” Roller said.
His next one wasn’t.
Roller lost his first two games in the semis before rattling off five in a row en route to a 6-3 first-set victory.
“This kid was playing unbelievable for the first two games,” Roller said. “Then he started missing a little bit.”
Woodall turned unstoppable again in the second set, taking a 6-1 victory. The two battled back and forth in the third and traded the first eight games.
Roller had a handful of chances but couldn’t break his opponent. Roller shanked a key volley in the ninth game that put Woodall ahead for good and sent him to a 6-4 match-clinching victory.
Roller and the Gators still have hopes of bringing home a state title. Roller and freshman David Dollbaum had their first doubles match postponed Wednesday. The district champions face Lakeland today at Sanlando Park.
Vande Berg falls in first round
Zephyrhills senior Sarah Vande Berg’s high school career ended with a three-set, first-round exit to Pace’s Britni Thibodeau.
In her third trip to the state tournament, Vande Berg started strong with a 6-3 first-set victory. But she fell behind 5-2 in the second before rallying to force a tiebreaker, which she lost 7-5.
Vande Berg never recovered, and Thibodeau claimed the final set 6-3.
“She just couldn’t hang in there,” Bulldogs coach Lorraine Hinkle said of Vande Berg. “She just seemed to be kinda tired. But she played well. I’m proud of her.”
Vande Berg has signed to play college tennis at South Carolina Upstate.
Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.