Times' all-Pinellas County boys and girls tennis teams

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Sat. May 26, 2012 | Rodney Page | Email

Times' all-Pinellas County boys and girls tennis teams

Boys
Player of the year:
Ganesh Rajaram, So., East Lake

Why we picked him: Playing against Rajaram was sometimes like playing against a backstop. He’s the kind of player who seems to get to every shot. Rajaram went undefeated against regular-season opponents and won the district championship. His only losses during the high school season came at regionals and in the second round of the Class 4A state tournament to eventual champion Sebastian Beltrame of Orlando Olympia.

Most impressive accomplishment: Rajaram said it was not just getting to the state tournament, but winning his first match 6-2, 6-0 over William House of Coral Springs. “Definitely getting to the state tournament,’’ he said. “I didn’t get there last year. So getting there and winning my first match was the highlight.’’

Did you know? Rajaram grew up with girls player of the year Alex Kitchen and the two have been training together since they were about 8 years old.

What’s next: He plans to play junior tournaments throughout the state this summer. He will also return to play with East Lake next spring.

First team
Michael Detsis, Jr., Osceola:
Won a district championship at No. 1 singles to qualify for the Cass 3A state tournament.
Robert Dvorak, Sr., St. Petersburg: Helped the district runnerup Green Devils to an undefeated regular season.
Nick Litsky, Jr., Shorecrest: Litsky had to fill in for regular No. 1 Alex Saltiel, who struggled with injuries. Helped guide the Chargers back to the Class A state tournament.
Jordan Monosky, So., Countryside: The Cougars’ top player. Rajaram said he was one of his tougher opponents.
Greg Perenich, So., Palm Harbor University: A district champ at No. 2 singles and doubles.

Second team
Nathan Lord, Sr., Palm Harbor University
Dylan Sleszynski, Jr., St. Petersburg
Matthew Madsen, Sr., Seminole
Alex Saltiel,  Jr., Shorecrest
Chris Cooley, Sr., Northeast

Honorable mention
East Lake: Aaron Vanhorenbeck, Ryan Hall
Largo: Brent Babista, Chris Walters
Northeast:  Miroslav Mijatovic
Osceola: Jordan Alexander, Luke Alexander, Alberto Lense
Palm Harbor University: Brian Bell, Mo Nuh
Seminole: Travis Andrews
Shorecrest: Peter Litsky, Logan Elder,  Brendan East
St. Petersburg: Danny Zakria, Kyle Bulleit, Matt Kopelman

Coach of the year: Matt Litsky, Shorecrest
Litsky coached only the boys team for the Chargers and led them to a fifth straight state tournament appearance, where they finished third in Class A.

Girls
Player of the year:
Alex Kitchen, Jr., Countryside

Why we picked her: Kitchen struggled with injuries during the season but peaked at the right time. She cruised through the district tournament and made the Class 4A state tournament as an individual. Kitchen won two matches to advance to the state semifinals, where she fell to eventual champion Gabriella Castaneda of Everglades. Unlike last year, Kitchen did not play doubles in the district tournament.

Most impressive accomplishment: Kitchen said it was not only advancing to the state tournament, but defeating St. Petersburg’s Agatha Ambrozy, the No. 2 seed, in three sets in the second round. “That was a big match for me,’’ Kitchen said. “Getting to the second round and winning was definitely my biggest accomplishment.’’

Did you know? Kitchen’s father, Scott, is Countryside’s tennis coach.

What’s next: There are plenty of elite summer tournaments in Kitchen’s future. “I want to play in those events and try to get noticed,’’ she said.

First team
Agatha Ambrozy, Sr., St. Petersburg:
The No. 2 seed in the individual singles state tournament before losing to Kitchen.
Amy Lowther, Sr., Seminole: Accomplished player on the junior circuit turned in a stellar season at No. 1 singles and doubles.
Samantha Azadian, Sr., Palm Harbor University: A No. 2 singles champ at the district tournament and a key to the Hurricanes' district and region success.
Jade Smith, So., Osceola: Played No. 1 for the Warriors, who advanced to region play.
Kelly Taylor, So., Largo: Won a No. 1 singles district championship for the Packers.

Second team
Avni Agrawal, Jr., Lakewood
Raquel Moya, Sr., East Lake
Jacque Lazaro, Fr., Clearwater Central Catholic
Jayla Smith, So., Osceola
Cailynn Madsen, Jr., Seminole

Honorable mention
Clearwater Central Catholic: Stephanie Cruz
East Lake:  Madeline Samkutty, Courtney Grigsby
Lakewood: Alexis Dangar, Anjelica Williams
Largo: Lisa Rickards, Yuliya Chashchina, Artemis Makris
Osceola:  Jessica Schroeder, Meredith Riccardi
Palm Harbor University: Shannon Cruz, Hannah Rahman, Stefanie Miller, Carina Gobes
Seminole: Alexandra Jones
Shorecrest: Kathryn Komarnicki, Molly Manella
St. Petersburg: Robyn Perry

Coach of the year: Irene Tharin, Palm Harbor University
The veteran coach guided the Hurricanes to a district title and past the first round of regionals.

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