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State tennis: Wiregrass Ranch boys close in on title

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Wed. April 16, 2014 | John C. Cotey | Email

The Wiregrass Ranch boys tennis team is poised to become the school’s first state championship squad after a dominating and near-perfect opening day Wednesday at the Class 3A championships in Altamonte Springs.

The Bulls were sitting in first place with 11 points (out of a possible 12), while second-place and four-time defending state champion Naples Barron Collier had nine.

Today, singles players Agustin Moreno (No. 1), Pedro Fernandez del Valle (No. 2), Foresight Okungbowa (No. 3) and Alejandro Feliciano (No. 4) will play in their respective finals after going 2-0 on Wednesday.

The teams of Moreno-Fernandez del Valle (No. 1) and Okungbowa-Feliciano (No. 2) also advanced to today’s semifinals.

“It was obviously what I was hoping for and expecting, as well as we have been playing,’’ Bulls coach Dave Wilson said. “Some of the matches they won very easily and were able to save their legs for the second round.”

Moreno knocked out Barron Collier’s top player and defending state champ Alan Sweet in the No. 1 semifinals 7-5, 6-0, and Fernandez and Feliciano only dropped three games combined in each of their two victories.

The only Bulls’ misstep Wednesday came at No. 5 singles, where Sebastian Castillo extended his incredible streak of 6-0, 6-0 victories to 22 straight matches before losing 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals.

Barron Collier, which has won seven of the past nine state championships, will go head-to-head against the Bulls in the Nos. 3 and 4 singles finals. In doubles, the Bulls No. 1 tandem will meet Barron Collier in the semis, and the No. 2 team could see Barron Collier in the finals.

According to Wilson’s math, the Bulls will have the chance to score eight more points, but four will clinch the state title.

“It’s not over, but I’d rather be in our position than Barron Collier’s at this point,’’ Wilson said. “I feel great about it. They are the (four)-time consecutive state champs and have been here before. But are guys are anxious and very positive.”

Springstead, making its first trip to state as a team, had the misfortune of running into Wiregrass Ranch in three of five singles matches and went 0-for-7 overall.

“I knew when the brackets came out we were going to have a tough time,” Springstead coach Joe Nicolai said. “We had to play against three No. 1 seeds and a No. 2. But it was an experience. We will learn from this.’’

Class 3A girls: In the individual tournament, Land O’Lakes’ Kavya Avancha lost in the first round, falling 6-4, 6-1 to King’s Sneha Sathish. Wiregrass Ranch’s doubles team of Brianna Miah and Tiffany Garner were defeated in straight sets.

Class A girls: Academy at the Lakes’ Cheyenne Lilienthal had a first-round bye, but defaulted her semifinal, giving Lake Mary Prep’s Danielle Peele the victory.

Staff writer Rodney Page contributed to this report.

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