Player of the year: Courage Okungbowa, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch
Why we picked him: Okungbowa was the No. 1 player on perhaps Tampa Bay’s most dominant team to earn the award a third consecutive season. “This year I felt I was really focused,” Okungbowa said. He led the Bulls to a perfect regular-season record, a Class 4A region title and the program’s second trip to state as a team. Okungbowa was knocked out in the first round at state in No. 1 singles but teamed with Agie Moreno to advance to the semifinals in No. 1 doubles after a three-set tiebreaker victory.
Most impressive accomplishment: Okungbowa didn’t lose a set until the second round of regionals. Wharton’s Sam Chaffin stole the first set, 6-2 and led 3-1 in the second before Okungbowa rallied, without his best stuff. He took the second 6-2 and barely beat the rain to claim the last set and seal his team’s trip to state. “I was able to find a way to win,” Okungbowa said.
Future plans: Okungbowa signed with FAMU in February. He plans to study computer information systems while playing tennis for the Rattlers.
Did you know? Okungbowa’s recruitment with FAMU started on a whim. He was competing in a junior tournament in Tallahassee when one of the directors called FAMU’s coach to tell him about Okungbowa. The Rattlers coach stopped by and invited Okungbowa to take an unofficial visit. He made an official visit later and accepted the Rattlers’ scholarship.
Agie Moreno, Fr., Wiregrass Ranch: Advanced to the semifinals in No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles to earn two of his team’s four points at state.
Patrick Deslaurier, So., Springstead: Eagles’ top player stumbled at districts in No. 1 singles but still helped Springstead win the Class 3A, District 6 title — the first in program history.
Austin Riddaugh, Sr., Pasco: Helped the Pirates win a second straight Class 2A, District 6 title with a win at No. 1 singles; teamed with Josh Morris to advance to the state semifinals at No. 1 doubles.
Niels van Dam, Fr., Wiregrass Ranch: Reached the state semifinals at No. 3 singles for one of Tampa Bay’s top teams.
Alejandro Feliciano, So., Wiregrass Ranch: Added depth for the Bulls at No. 4 singles and teamed with Foresight Okungbowa to take the eventual state champs to three sets in No. 2 doubles.
Dan Lukish, Fr., Mitchell
Foresight Okungbowa, So., Wiregrass Ranch
Carl Zee, Sr., Springstead
David Dollbaum, So., Land O’Lakes
Josh Morris, So., Pasco
Anclote: Sead Neziri; Fivay: Gio Garnada; Gulf: Victor Cao; Hernando: James Ortega; Hudson: Andrew Goetz; Land O’Lakes: Christopher Mo; Mitchell: Tony Nguyen; Nature Coast: Jesse Dewitt, Conner Schwefringhaus; Pasco: Alex Mitchell; Ridgewood: Alex Dziedzic, Dylan Disbro; River Ridge: Alex Koutsos; Springstead: Hank Deslaurier; Sunlake: Chris Wilkinson; Wesley Chapel: Ralph Herz; Zephyrhills: Luke Messina
Coach of the year
Dave Wilson, Wiregrass Ranch: The Sunshine Athletic Conference coach of the year led the North Suncoast’s most dominant team in any sport to edge Springstead’s Joe Nicolai for the award. His Bulls reached state for the second time in program history, didn’t drop a set until the region tournament and swept all-SAC first team honors.
Player of the year: Star Makarome, So., Wiregrass Ranch
Why we picked her: Makarome dominated the North Suncoast again during a condensed schedule. She cruised to consecutive district titles at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles. She didn’t lose a game in singles at districts and lost only two all season entering the Class 4A state tournament. “I feel consistency-wise, I’m better,” Makarome said.
Most impressive accomplishment: Though she fell short of her second-place finish as a freshman, Makarome still fared well at state. She and teammate Tiffany Garner took a bye into the quarterfinals in doubles, and Makarome was the top seed in singles before falling to the eventual champion in the state semifinals. She said she enjoyed the team aspect and the fact that Wiregrass’ boys team qualified for state, ramping up the excitement. “That was a huge thing for all of us,” Makarome said.
Future plans: Makarome still has two years of high school remaining. She hopes to play tennis in college and ultimately aspires to pursue a professional career. Tennisrecruiting.net considers her a five-star talent, and she won the National Open junior doubles championship this month in Georgia.
Did you know? Makarome thought about not playing this season to focus on junior events, as many top players do. She didn’t decide to return to the Bulls until just before the spring. “I just went with the flow and hung out with my girls,” Makarome said. “All in all, it was another great experience. Great memories from this season. I really can’t complain.” Makarome is undecided about returning to high school tennis next spring.
Kavya Avancha, So., Land O’Lakes: District runnerup in singles won a Class 3A, District 6 championship in doubles.
Victoria Chavez, So., Wiregrass Ranch: All-SAC first-teamer upset the top seed to earn a district title at No. 2 singles.
Mady Johnson, Jr., Pasco: Cruised to the Class 2A, District 6 title at No. 1 singles to help the Pirates earn their third consecutive team title.
Grace Curren, Fr., Hernando: Finished runnerup to Johnson at districts and teamed with Shelby Marrero to advance to the state semifinals in doubles.
Tiffany Garner, So., Wiregrass Ranch: Teamed with Makarome to win the Class 4A, District 5 title in No. 1 doubles.
Shelby Marrero, Sr., Hernando
Sydney Owens, Jr., Zephyrhills
Scarlett Semack, So., Springstead
Sarah McCord, Sr., Pasco
Sam Page, Sr., Mitchell
Anclote: Amanda Zammit; Central: Danielle Daly; Fivay: Ashleigh Day; Gulf: Casey Siena; Hudson: Dominique Cirnigliaro; Land O’Lakes: Cori Arndt, Deneen Wang; Mitchell: Jessica Gilmor; Nature Coast: Christine Sniffen, Madeline Pickersgill; Pasco: Amanda Dee, Shelbie Timlake; Ridgewood: Shamina Stagner; River Ridge: Keegan McQuillan; Springstead: Bryn Buckner, Robyn Cotney; Sunlake: Jackie Simpson; Wesley Chapel: Allison Kosloski; Zephyrhills: Samantha Solmonson, Hannah Ungerer
Coach of the year
Rick Scholl, Springstead: The first-year coach took an Eagles team that didn’t crack the top half of the district last spring and led it to the Class 3A, District 6 championship. Springstead’s depth helped Scholl’s squad finish perfect in district play in the regular season, too.