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Youth doesn't deter Newsome as district tennis tournaments approach

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Wed. April 7, 2010 | Eduardo A. Encina

TAMPA — Dave Peters is the only girls tennis coach Newsome has known, so the Wolves aren’t used to him not being around the courts.

So when Peters, less than two weeks after having a heart attack and emergency triple-bypass surgery, arrived midway through Newsome’s district match against Wharton last week, it was the highlight of the afternoon.

“He looked tired,” senior and No. 5 singles player Hannah Harkins said. “But seeing him at that match really showed his dedication. We were all so happy to see him. To see him go through all that, it was nerve-wracking for the team, but I think it really brought us all together as a team.”

Entering next week’s district tournament play, the Wolves have come together on the court as well. They’re one of the hottest girls teams in the county. With late-season wins over Alonso, Chamberlain and Wharton, they were 10-0 before falling to defending state champion Plant in the Class 4A-5 district finale Monday.

In Peters’ absence, the Wolves stepped up their play, using their recuperating coach as inspiration.

“He’s been my coach for four years,” Harkins said. “He’s become an important figure. Before our matches, we talked about playing our hardest for him and keeping our morale up.”

Said Linda Hacker, who took over in Peters’ absence: “They were actually all very composed and continued to do what he instilled in them very well.”

Peters, who has coached the Wolves since the school opened in 2003, suffered chest pains on March 21. A trip to the hospital revealed he had had a heart attack — and three blocked arteries.

Amazingly, Peters, 51, missed just two matches, wins over Alonso and Chamberlain. Being back with his team was even more therapeutic.

“I felt like a new man being out there,” Peters said. “I’m definitely going to be out there for districts. I don’t know how much coaching I’m going to be doing, but I want to be there.”

With Harkins the team’s only senior, Newsome is still young. No. 1 singles player Jaci Watson is a junior and No. 2 Jordan Lameier a sophomore. Newcomer twins Savannah and Elena Ewing, the Nos. 3 and 4 players, respectively, are freshmen.

Despite their youth, their recent wins, especially their nondistrict 4-3 win over county power Chamberlain (Newsome won when Harkins and Savannah Ewing won the No. 2 doubles match, 9-8, in a tiebreak), have them coming of age, especially as the postseason begins next week.

“I never thought we’d be as good as we’ve been,” Harkins said. “After we beat Chamberlain, that was one of the coolest things. Now we feel like we have a fighting chance.”

District schedule
Note: District tennis is played over two days

Class 4A-5
Teams:
Alonso, Bloomingdale, Brandon, Freedom, Gaither, Newsome, Plant, Riverview, Tampa Bay Tech, Wharton
Site: Hunter’s Green Country Club, New Tampa
Begins: Boys, Monday at 8 a.m.; girls, Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Class 4A-7
Teams:
Bradenton Manatee, North Port, Plant City, Sarasota Riverview, Sarasota
Site: Sarasota High School
Begins: Monday at 8 a.m.

Class 3A-8
Teams:
Armwood, Chamberlain, Durant, East Bay, Hillsborough, Jefferson, King, Leto, Sickles
Sites: Boys, Temple Terrace Rec Center, Temple Terrace; girls, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa
Begins: Monday at 8 a.m.

Class 2A-10
Teams:
Blake, Steinbrenner, Jesuit (boys), Lennard, Middleton, Robinson, Spoto, Strawberry Crest
Site: Eastlake Woodlands Country Club, Tampa
Begins: Monday at 8 a.m.

Class A-8
Teams:
Academy at the Lakes, Berean Academy (boys), Berkeley Prep, Bishop McLaughlin, Cambridge, Citrus Park Christian, Holy Names (girls), Seffner Christian (girls), Tampa Catholic, Tampa Prep
Site: Tampa Prep
Begins: Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

Photo: Newsome's Jordan Lameier

Teams in post

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