ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — Sarah and Elizabeth Means didn't play tennis last year at Wiregrass Ranch. The distinguished junior stars said they weren't ready to devote themselves to the high school schedule.
They seem more than ready now.
Both advanced to their respective singles finals then teamed up to advance to today's doubles semifinals in leading the Bulls to a third-place tie after the first day of the Class 3A state tournament Wednesday at Sanlando Park.
The Means scored five points and Hannah Still won her first-round singles match for another as the Bulls finished the day with six points.
Naples Barron Collier and Tallahassee Leon are tied for first with eight points. The Bulls, tied with Stuart Martin County, don't appear to have the numbers to overtake either but are in good position for a top-three finish.
"It was so much fun being out there, especially with it being the first time for our school," Sarah Means said.
Her match in the No. 1 semifinals was one of the day's most thrilling. She dropped the first set to Boca Raton Olympic Heights' Luisa Candido but rallied to reach the final with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 win that was a lot closer than the score indicated. In the third set, Means was down 40-0 but fought back to break Candido to make it 3-0 and deal the most telling blow.
"She was a tough player," Means said. "I had to make some adjustments."
If Sarah Means wins the team No. 1 singles final today against Gibbs' Akilah James, it would mean a Friday match against the individual tournament No. 1 winner, likely Northeast's Danielle Collins, the No. 1 junior player in the country.
Elizabeth Means rolled at No. 2, winning 6-1, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-1. At No. 1 doubles, the sisters won 6-1, 6-2 over Bradenton Lakewood Ranch's team.
In individual play at Lake Brantley, River Ridge's Nicole Wellman moved into today's semifinals with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Emma Joclyn of Fort Myers.
Wiregrass Ranch's Spencer Ong lost his opening singles match then fell in doubles with Eric Rivas.