State tennis: Plant girls start strong; Jesuit meets its match



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Mon. April 16, 2012 | Laura Keeley | Email

When Plant won the state championship last year, the Panthers were in last place after the first day.

This year, they are in much better shape.

Both the No. 1 doubles pair of Blair Martin and Gabby Rodriguez and the No. 2 team of Claire-Mitchell Andrews and Natalie Franklin won their first-round matches Monday in Class 4A to clinch a spot in this morning’s semifinals. Andrews and Franklin are still alive at their Nos. 3 and 4 singles positions as well.

Franklin, along with No. 5 player Lexi Biller, were forced to move up a spot when Plant’s regular at the No. 4 spot, Erica Oosterhout, tore her ACL this past weekend playing soccer. Oosterhout, a freshman, was on the Panthers’ varsity soccer team and also helped the school win a state championship in cross country.

“It hurt,” coach Margaret Drumsta said of Oosterhout’s absence, “but the girls didn’t let that get them down. Everyone got as many points as possible.”

Biller, who would not have played had Oosterhout been available, was the only other singles player to win. And Andrews and Franklin had to play three sets to advance in doubles, pulling out the 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 win. They were down 5-0 in the second set before starting their comeback.

“We rose to the occasion today,” Drumsta said. “It would be great to bring the championship back, but win or lose, they’ve played well.”

For the Plant boys, making their first appearance at the state tournament since 2005, the No. 1 doubles team of Alec Josepher and Tristan Kaye advanced to the semifinal round.

Class 2A: Despite its best efforts to schedule tough competition during the regular season, Jesuit ran into the buzz saw that is five-time defending state champion Gulliver Prep.

“I don’t think we played nearly as well as we wanted to play,” said coach Joe Curtis, whose Tigers have made the state tournament 17 of the past 18 years. “It’s difficult to simulate the level of competition you’re going to see here during regular season. It’s just not the same.”

The No. 1 doubles team of Jamie Sullivan and Jordan Nasser, both juniors, are the last two Tigers standing and will play in today’s semifinals. Sullivan, who plays No. 1 singles, and freshmen Palmer Evans and Maxwell Azzarelli, the Nos. 4 and 5 players, each won a match in the singles tournament before ultimately bowing out.

“We didn’t play well enough, but we did all right,” Curtis said. “We were competitive, and that’s the main thing I was hoping for.”

Academy of the Holy Names finds itself done in singles but has one doubles pairing alive. Senior Sarah Port and eighth-grader Korina Hernandez-Zimring, the No. 2 doubles tandem, have advanced with a 6-4, 7-6, (8-6) win in their opening match.

“That was my goal this year, to come back the second day,” Port said. “I’m excited but kind of sad. I’d like to be able to stay a little longer to play with this team.”

Port is the lone senior in the Jaguars’ starting five. She, along with Hernandez-Zimring, were the players who won their first singles matches. Coach Jonathan Collazo was encouraged with what he saw from the rest of his team.

“The future is going to be great,” he said.


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