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All-Hillsborough County boys and girls tennis teams

Girls

Player of the Year

Amber Li, Jr., Plant

Why we picked her: Despite coming back from a lingering ankle injury that cost her the first few matches of the season, Li was once again the top player on the county's top girls team. After winning the Class 4A, District 5 No. 1 singles title, she easily won both of her region-round matches, then helped guide the Panthers to their third straight top-two state finish. Teaming with Claire Mitchell Andrews, Li advanced to the No. 1 doubles title match. The Panthers placed second to Class 4A juggernaut Miami Dr. Krop, which won its fourth straight team title.

Most impressive accomplishment: Plant's second-place finish at state after the move from 3A to 4A was a win in itself. She said concentrating on her doubles play was big, and getting to the state final at No. 1 doubles was a major reason the Panthers clinched second. But in her singles play, she earned big three-set tiebreaker wins over St. Petersburg's Emily Dvorak in region and Alonso's Erin Snook in district play.

Did you know? Last week, Li finished her advance placement tests for five courses: calculus, English, environmental science, art history and U.S. history.

College plans: She's only a junior, so this summer of junior tournaments will be big in drawing college interest. She'd like to attend an Ivy League college, and lists Harvard and Yale as her favorites. Li has a 5.5 weighted and 3.92 unweighted grade-point average.

First team

Blair Martin, Fr., Plant: Won Class 4A team final at No. 2 singles at state

Nicole Mera, Jr., Chamberlain: District singles champ, one half of 3A individual No. 2 champion doubles team

Erin Snook, Sr., Alonso: Ravens' No. 1 has signed with the Naval Academy

Kelly Sullivan, Jr., Tampa Catholic: Class A state individual singles runnerup

Kaleigh Wagner, So., Steinbrenner: Class 2A individual qualifier in No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles

Second team

Rachel Adler, Fr., King

Claire Mitchell Andrews, So., Plant

McKenzie O'Brien, Sr., Chamberlain

Bianca Roberts, So., Academy of the Holy Names

Jaci Watson, Jr., Newsome

Honorable mention

Academy of the Holy Names: Christine Holcomb, Caroline Lozo, Christina Socias

King: Evelyn Qi, Jayash Ramananthan

Plant: Carol Marie Fraley, Morgan Nolan

Steinbrenner: Tatum Brannan, Natalia Campos, Carli Schwartz

Coach of the Year

Lynn Vu, Plant: Guided Panthers to a third consecutive top-two finish at state (4A this year, 3A previous two seasons)

Boys

Player of the Year

Mike Alford, Sr., Wharton

Why we picked him: Simply said, he ended his high school career as one of the most decorated boys tennis players in Hillsborough County. He won his second straight Class 4A overall state singles title this year — a year in which he didn't drop a set. He hasn't lost a singles match since his sophomore year. He led Wharton to its third straight state title, winning at No. 1 singles and teaming with Rohit Navelkar as runnerup at No. 1 doubles.

Most impressive accomplishment: In the No. 1 singles team final, Alford beat No. 1 seed Ryan Smith, a freshman phenom from Weston Cypress Bay, 6-2, 6-2. "I really had to play hard to keep more balls in play and be a little smarter than against other guys," Alford said. Smith is ranked the ninth-best freshman in the country by Tennisrecruiting.com.

Did you know? In a game that offers its share of outbursts, Alford is one of the coolest customers on the court. A slight grimace is the only sign of frustration you'll find. The last time he threw a racket? "Probably the last one I broke. I think I was 14. My dad almost made me walk home."

Future plans: Alford has already signed a letter of intent with the University of Florida. He is leaning toward studying business and is well-equipped with a 4.6 weighted grade-point average. First team

Colin Edwards, Jr., Newsome: Playing in toughest district, stepped up his game against top competition

Jon Ho, So., Wharton: His state win at No. 4 singles lifted Wildcats to their third straight 4A state team title

Tristan Kaye, So., Plant: Panther's No. 1 was best player on district championship team

Brian Kowalski, So., Hillsborough: Terriers' No. 1 went undefeated until state tournament

Jamie Sullivan, Fr., Jesuit: District singles champ in Class 2A-10, state quarterfinalist

Second team

Nathan Graddy, So., Berkeley Prep

Ben Hwang, Jr., Wharton

Jack Murphy, So., Hillsborough

Rohit Navelkar, Jr., Wharton

Alexander Peckham, Sr., Hillsborough

Honorable mention

Berkeley Prep: Zach Ayers, Eric Fitz-Randolph, Gannon Kennedy, Nikita Leonov

Hillsborough: Jay Mendoza, Karim Saad

Jesuit: T.R. Bopp, Jordan Nasser, David Pagliarulo, Ryan Walden

East Bay: Kyle Whiteside

Freedom: Ryan Detres

Plant: Brenton D'Adamo, Lantz Martin, Adam Osiason, Mike Secular

Steinbrenner: Luke Blankenship, Anthony Melatti, Preston West

Coach of the Year

Marcie Scholl, Wharton: Led Wildcats to third straight Class 4A state team title

All-Hillsborough County boys and girls tennis teams 05/16/10 [Last modified: Sunday, May 16, 2010 12:05am]

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