The regular-season tennis schedule is nearly complete. Now the fun begins. Pinellas County hasn't won a team or individual title since 2002 when the Countryside girls, led by state champion Jennifer Dent, captured the Class 3A crown. A number of contenders, however, are poised to end the county's drought. Here's a primer for next week's district tournaments, the first leg in the playoff stretch.
Note: District tennis is played over two days
Class 4A, District 6
Where: Seminole High
Begins: Monday, 8 a.m.
Teams: Clearwater, Countryside, East Lake, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, Seminole, St. Petersburg
Boys team: Led by top singles players Edward Corty (No. 1), Phillip Novikov (2) and Rob Perry (3), St. Petersburg has the deepest team in the county. The Green Devils, unbeaten in the regular season, are looking for their third straight district title. Palm Harbor University lost just once — to St. Petersburg — and will likely battle Seminole for second and a spot in the region quarterfinals.
Boys individual: Corty finished the season undefeated at No. 1 singles for the Green Devils and enters as the odds-on pick to win his first district title. A junior, Corty was runnerup last year to Alonso's Tyler Snook. His biggest challenge will come from Seminole senior Dan Lang and Palm Harbor University freshman David Teytelbaum, who defeated Lang 8-5 on Tuesday.
Girls team: St. Petersburg is the team to beat. The Green Devils' lineup — Emily Dvorak, Agatha Ambrozy, Sunshine Beba, Melanie Gray and Tiffany Easton — is talented and experienced. The girls are unbeaten and looking for a third straight team title. The fight for runnerup will be hotly contested among Countryside, PHU and Seminole.
Girls individual: Dvorak, the Times’ Player of the Year last year as a sophomore, is the defending district champion, but she's not the favorite. That distinction belongs to Seminole freshman Julia Sikorski, who defeated Dvorak 8-4 in one of the regular season's most entertaining matches. East Lake junior Laura Ospina also has the talent to reach the final.
Class 3A, District 7
Where: Royal Racquet Club in Clearwater
Begins: Monday, 9 a.m.
Teams: Boca Ciega, Dixie Hollins, Dunedin, Gibbs, Largo, Northeast, Tarpon Springs
Boys team: Defending district champion Dunedin no longer has No. 2 Admir Tabak, but the Falcons remain the team to beat. Largo and Tarpon Springs defeated Dunedin 4-3 in the regular season. The Falcons, however, were without top player Michael Beiler. Should be an interesting battle among those three teams for two region spots.
Boys individual: It will be hard for anybody to beat Dunedin's Beiler. The junior defeated Ryan Frazier from Osceola a year ago to win the district title and advance to the state tournament. A return trip is all but assured.
Girls team: Two years ago, Gibbs won its first district title after barely fielding a team the year before. Now, the Gladiators are the two-time defending district champ and the favorite to make it three in a row entering next week. Gibbs defeated Largo for the crown a year ago. Expect those teams to again fight it out for first.
Girls individual: Sophomore Danielle Collins is the No. 1 ranked USTA 18-and-under singles player in the nation. A district title is an afterthought for Collins, who is the favorite to win the 3A individual state title.
Class 2A, District 9
Where: Southeast High in Bradenton
Begins: Monday, 10 a.m.
Teams: Bayshore, Booker, DeSoto County, Lakewood, Lemon Bay, Osceola, Southeast
Boys team: Lakewood and Osceola enter districts without any real idea of how they stack up because Pinellas schools weren't allowed to schedule out of county during the regular season. Lakewood is a defending district champ; Bayshore, Booker and Lemon Bay were runnersup a year ago. Of the two county teams Lakewood is the stronger side, having defeated Osceola 4-3 in the regular season.
Boys individual: Lakewood's Nick Voce will challenge for the title. He defeated Osceola's top player, Michael Detsis, 8-5 this year.
Girls team: Lemon Bay is the only team in the district to advance to regionals last season. Lakewood defeated Osceola 4-3 during the regular season, although neither team appears experienced enough to advance.
Girls individual: Osceola's Jessica Schroeder is the strongest player among local entrants.
Class A, District 9
Begins: Tuesday, 8:30 a.m.
Teams: Admiral Farragut, Calvary Christian, Canterbury, Carrollwood Day, Clearwater Central Catholic, Indian Rocks Christian, Northside Christian, Shorecrest, St. Petersburg Catholic
Boys team: Shorecrest is aiming for its third straight trip to the state finals. With a strong duo at the Nos. 1-2 singles positions in Garrett Betsarakis and Brendan East, the Chargers are the team to beat. CCC, led by Ricky Symanski (No. 1 singles) and Jose Lazaro (No. 2), and Canterbury, with Miles Holveit at the top of the lineup, pose the greatest threat to Shorecrest.
Boys individual: Betsarakis, the Times’ Player of the Year two years in a row, defeated Symanski and Holveit 8-6 in two tight matches during the regular season. The title will likely come down to one of those three, although SPC's Luke Burton could challenge.
Girls team: Led by four seniors — Alyssa Bellini, Jerica Coley, Danielle Nickerson and Molly Smith — and sophomore Julia Jones at No. 1 singles, St. Petersburg Catholic has the depth and experience to make a run at the state title. None of the teams in A-9 can knock off the Barons, though Shorecrest and Northside Christian will come the closest. Expect those two to battle for the remaining region spot.
Girls individual: A third meeting between Jones and Shorecrest senior Morgan Basil is likely in the individual final. Jones defeated Basil, a Boise State signee, 9-7 and 8-3 in their regular-season matches. IRC's Yasmine Franco is another strong player looking to break into the top two.