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Hillsborough boys second, Chamberlain doubles team first at Class 3A state tennis

Hillsborough’s Jackson Murphy hits a backhand during his Class 3A singles match. The Terriers finished second overall.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Hillsborough’s Jackson Murphy hits a backhand during his Class 3A singles match. The Terriers finished second overall.

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — Nicole Mera's day started with playing Northeast's Danielle Collins, the No. 1-ranked under-18 player in the country.

She lost 6-0, 6-2.

Then she moved to doubles, where she teamed with Chamberlain teammate McKenzie O'Brien to take a 4-0 lead in the first set — before blowing it.

Then? Everything went right. Mera and O'Brien rallied to beat Winter Haven 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, then rolled right to the Class 3A championship of the individual bracket by dominating Pensacola Washington 6-2, 6-2 at Sanlando Park. Today, Mera and O'Brien face Wiregrass Ranch's Sarah and Elizabeth Means for the overall doubles title.

"I'm a senior, so we want to win this bad," O'Brien said.

"Oh yeah, real bad," said Mera.

The Hillsborough boys team came into Thursday's final day needing to win all their matches to have a chance at a state title. It won none, but still left with a silver medal after its second-place finish.

Naples Barron Collier won the team championship with 18 points. The Terriers, who had Jackson Murphy, Alexander Peckham and Querubin Mendoza reach their respective singles finals but finish as runners-up, had nine points.

A: Tampa Catholic's Sullivan drops final

CASSELBERRY — Holding serve to close out a set can be one of the most difficult challenges for a tennis player.

On Thursday, Tampa Catholic's Kelly Sullivan experienced both sides of the coin.

Playing top-seeded Caroline Dailey from Out-of-Door Academy in the Class A individual singles final at Red Bug Lake Park, Sullivan used a mix of off-pace looping balls and deep, penetrating groundstrokes to frustrate Dailey and gain a 5-3 first set lead. Sullivan, though, couldn't close out the set on her serve and proceeded to drop 10 straight games to fall 7-5, 6-0.

"It was a neck-and-neck match," Sullivan said. "We played a lot of deuce and ad points."

It was the exact opposite for Sullivan in her opening-round doubles match with partner Ashley Farrel. The Tampa Catholic duo fell behind 5-2 early to Calvary Christian sisters Shelby and Emily Groeneveld but broke back twice in the midst of a five-game run to take the first set.

From there, Sullivan and Farrel cruised 7-5, 6-2.

"We started playing the net way better and going in between them when they were at the net," Sullivan said of the turnaround.

Sullivan and Farrel were knocked out of the tournament in the semifinals by Out-of-Door's Dailey and Michelle Ramos 6-3, 6-2.

In the boys Class A team competition, Berkeley Prep gained another point at No. 2 doubles to finish in a tie for fifth overall with three points.

The Bucs' Zachary Ayers and Nikita Leonov dropped First Academy's Hayden Rodriguez and John David Russo 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals before losing to second-seeded Erik Majcher and Harlan Swift from St. Edwards 6-0, 6-3. American Heritage Delray Beach won both boys and girls team championships with 17 points for each.

Staff writer Bryan Burns contributed to this report.

On the Web

Check out photos from Thursday's Class 3A action in a gallery at

tampabay.com/hometeam

Hillsborough boys second, Chamberlain doubles team first at Class 3A state tennis 04/29/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 29, 2010 11:38pm]
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