Times' all-North Suncoast boys and girls tennis teams



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Sat. May 26, 2012 | Matt Baker | Email

Times' all-North Suncoast boys and girls tennis teams

Player of the year:
Courage Okungbowa, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch

Why we picked him: The Bulls’ consistent star repeats as North Suncoast player of the year after a stellar junior season. He was untested during the regular season and breezed to a second straight district title in No. 1 singles while adding one in No. 1 doubles with teammate Eric Busch. Okungbowa avenged 2011’s disappointing first-round exit at the state tournament with a strong showing this spring. He overcame a tight shoulder to advance to Pasco County’s first state championship match since 2005 before falling to Olympia’s Sebastian Beltrame in straight sets.

Most impressive accomplishment: Okungbowa dominated the regular season but showed his resolve at state. After an easy first-round victory, he lost the first four games in the state semifinals and dropped the first set 3-6. He forced 13 deuce points to start the next game before finally starting a rally. He won the next two sets, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the state title match.

Future plans: Okungbowa still has another year of high school remaining, and plans to pursue a professional career or college scholarship down the line.

Did you know? Okungbowa’s success on and off the court has drawn national attention. ESPN featured his family’s saga — their journey from Nigeria to America and a car crash that nearly claimed their lives — in a story earlier this year. … His younger brother, Foresight, was a key addition to Wiregrass’ team and took district crowns in No. 2 doubles and No. 4 singles.

First team
Colin Roller, Sr., Land O’Lakes
: East Carolina recruit was Class 3A’s No. 1 seed and reached the semifinals in his fourth trip to state.
Zenon Kouts, Sr., Nature Coast: The Sharks’ all-time leader in singles wins advanced to the Class 2A quarterfinals at state.
Carl Zee, Jr., Springstead: Upset Mitchell’s Swayze Page at district to help his team advance to regionals.
Koustubh Ramesh, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch: His best match of the year came in a three-set victory to take the district title in No. 2 singles.
Swayze Page, Sr., Mitchell: The all-conference player was the No. 2 seed at districts on a solid Mustangs club.

Second team
Jaime Feliciano, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch
Foresight Okungbowa, Fr., Wiregrass Ranch
Garret Williams, Sr., Ridgewood
David Dollbaum, Fr., Land O’Lakes
Austin Riddaugh, Jr., Pasco

Honorable mention
Anclote: Sead Neziri
Fivay: Gio Garnada
Hernando: James Ortega
Hudson: Chris Wilkinson
Land O’Lakes: Tyler Sanders
Mitchell: Tony Nguyen
Nature Coast: Josh Weaver
Pasco: Josh Morris, Christian Yann
Ridgewood: Dylan Disbro, Alex Dziedzic
River Ridge: Dylan Taylor
Springstead: Patrick Deslaurier, Henry Deslaurier, Trevor Whitmill
Sunlake: Aaron Aucoin
Wesley Chapel: Brandon Martinez
Wiregrass Ranch: Eric Busch

Coach of the year: Mickey Wilks, Pasco
The Sunshine Athletic Conference’s coach of the year set the stage for one of Pasco’s best seasons yet and a run to the region finals. His leadership helped push the Pirates to their first district title by knocking off a Nature Coast team that reached state last year.

Player of the year:
Star Makarome, Fr., Wiregrass Ranch

Why we picked her: Makarome was one of Tampa Bay’s most dominant players in any sport this year. And she accomplished that feat as a 5-foot, 14-year-old freshman. “I did not expect it to be this awesome, I guess,” Makarome said after breezing to a 6-0, 6-0 win in the district title match. The Maryland native became Pasco County’s first state female finalist since 2001 by knocking off Class 4A’s top-ranked player in the semis before falling to Everglades’ Gabriella Castaneda in the championship round. The five-star recruit took district crowns in No. 1 singles and doubles and helped the Bulls earn the team title. The USTA ranks her as the country’s No. 50 player in her age group.

Most impressive accomplishment: Though Makarome’s USTA schedule meant she couldn’t play every match, her statistics were mind-boggling. She dropped only three singles games all season heading into the state tournament. She lost only four games — singles or doubles — at district. Makarome won every set she played until the state championship.

Future plans: Makarome still has three years of high school remaining and takes some online classes now. She said she’d like to play tennis in college with the hopes of eventually turning pro. She got a taste of the professional game this year with a wild-card entry into a qualifying draw at Innisbrook.

Did you know? Tennis runs in her family. Her father picked up the game late but became good enough to coach Star and her younger brother, Noah, who ended last year as the USTA’s top-ranked 12-year-old.

First team
Sarah Vande Berg, Sr., Zephyrhills:
The South Carolina Upstate recruit claimed the district title to advance to her third consecutive state tournament.
Delanie McCabe, Sr., Nature Coast: The Sharks’ top player earned district crowns in No. 1 singles and doubles.
Tamara Subotic, So., River Ridge: All-conference selection was the district’s runnerup with a bright future ahead.
Rebecca Pelham, Sr., Pasco: District runnerup helped her Pirates edge Nature Coast for the Class 2A, District 6 title.
Mady Johnson, So., Pasco: All-SAC first teamer was the district champ in No. 2 singles.

Second team
Mallorie Pickersgill, Sr., Nature Coast
Shelby Marrero, Jr., Hernando
Linzi Arndt, Sr., Land O’Lakes
Sydney Owens, So., Zephyrhills
Tiffany Garner, Fr., Wiregrass Ranch

Honorable mention
Academy at the Lakes: Daniella Moreno-Kaste
Anclote: Amanda Zammit
Fivay: Marissa Ciccarone
Gulf: Ruhaani Bhula
Hernando: Jada Bergstrom
Hudson: Dominique Cirnigliaro
Land O’Lakes: Kavya Avancha
Mitchell: Jessica Chaltry, Samantha Page
Pasco: Amanda Dempsey, Norah Taylor
River Ridge: Michelina Schulze
Sunlake: Natalie Toselli, Jacquelin Simpson
Wesley Chapel: Deana Galbraith
Wiregrass Ranch: Kathryn Bonti, Leilani Cubero, Jordanyne Fye

Coach of the year: Don Charlick, Pasco
Charlick earns repeat honors after helping the Pirates claim a second straight district crown. The Sunshine Athletic Conference’s top coach led his team to a victory over Gainesville Eastside in the region semifinals before losing to Crystal River in a 4-3 heartbreaker.


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