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Wiregrass Ranch stars Courage Okungbowa and Star Makarome kept their state title hopes alive heading into the second day of the Class 4A state tournament at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.
Okungbowa knocked off the No. 1 seed in individual singles to advance to Tuesday’s 8 a.m. final. He’s the first Pasco County boy in the championship match since Saddlebrook Prep’s Dominic Pagan in 2005.
Okungbowa cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 win in the quarterfinals before dropping the first four games in the semifinals against Gainesville Buchholz senior Erik Vincek.
“It didn’t look promising at all,” Bulls coach Dave Wilson said.
Okungbowa dropped the set 3-6 and took Vincek to 13 deuce points to start the next game. Vincek eventually broke down, and Okungbowa took the last two sets, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the championship match against Olympia’s Sebastian Beltrame.
“Courage just stepped it up another notch,” Wilson said.
So did Makarome. The 14-year-old freshman beat Parkland freshman Kellyn Abbanat 6-2, 6-3 in the first round and outlasted Orlando Boone sophomore Sarah Baron 7-5, 6-1 to advance to Tuesday’s 8 a.m. semifinal.
“I was in the beginning a bit nervous,” Makarome said. “I was able to settle down, keep my cool and just focus on my match. That’s all I can ask for.”
In the quarterfinals, Makarome took a 4-1 lead before Baron fought back to tie it at 5. Makarome recovered to take the next two games and dominate the second set.
“I held my ground,” Makarome said.
She’ll face a tough test today. Her opponent, Coral Gables’ Sonja Radosevic, is the top seed and one of TennisRecruiting.net’s top 150 juniors.
Makarome and doubles teammate, freshman Tiffany Garner, lost their first-round match to Boone but played a more experienced team well in a 7-5, 6-4 defeat.
“I’m so proud of them,” Bulls coach Jewell Fye said.
In boys doubles, the No. 3 tandem of Okungbowa and Eric Busch had a bye in the first round but lost to Vero Beach 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
Class 2A: Nature Coast’s Zenon Kouts won his first match in singles before falling in the quarterfinals.
The senior served well and used strong shot placement to knock off Auburndale’s Logan Allen 6-1, 6-2 in the opening round. But Kouts, the district champion, couldn’t overcome Nease’s Connor Garyotis in a 6-1, 6-1 loss.
“He’s seeded No. 3 for a reason,” Sharks coach Tom Brown said of Garyotis, an East Carolina recruit.
The Sharks girls suffered early defeats. Delanie McCabe lost in her first singles match 6-2, 6-1.
McCabe and doubles teammate Mallorie Pickersgill also dropped the first of their doubles matches, 6-1, 6-1 to Rockledge.
“Getting here’s an honor,” NCT girls coach John Downey said.
Pasco’s Joshua Morris and Austin Riddaugh lost in the first round in boys doubles, 6-1, 6-0 to Fernandina Beach.