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Pinellas: District tennis previews

Bummed because of the gap in professional tennis between the Australian and French opens? Check out the next generation of one-handed backhands and overhead smashes from the comfort of your folding chair during the high school district tournament round, starting Monday. Here's a primer for this week's action:

Mouth-watering matchups

Potential district championships featuring the area's biggest stars:

Edward Corty (St. Petersburg) vs. Tyler Snook (Alonso), 4A-5 boys: Snook finished as district runnerup last season after falling in three sets. He's the favorite and will likely play Corty for the title, although Palm Harbor University's Alex Fisch is a contender as well.

Emily Dvorak (St. Petersburg) vs. Erin Snook (Alonso), 4A-5 girls: Snook is ranked No. 52 in the latest 18-and-under USTA Florida rankings. Dvorak is No. 27 in the 16-and-under age group. Snook is the district's top seed.

Amy Lowther (Seminole) vs. Laura Ospina (East Lake), 3A-7 girls: Lowther, who finished the season undefeated, clipped Ospina 8-6 in March.

3A-7 boys: Michael Beiler (Tarpon Springs), Ryan Frazier (Osceola), Matt Herrock (East Lake) and Dan Lang (Seminole) are capable of taking the individual singles title. The winner here will have earned it.

Tennis … anyone? The district lineup is marred by a handful of notable absences.

Alex Salteil, a top-ranked junior and Shorecrest's No. 2 player will likely miss this week's action, according to Chargers coach Elaine East. Salteil is playing in the prestigious Easter Bowl national junior tournament this weekend and probably won't be back by the start of the district event Tuesday. Salteil can return for the region tournament should Shorecrest advance as expected, but his addition means one of the others Chargers would sit.

Same situation for the St. Petersburg Catholic boys team, which lost No. 2 A.J. Schuyler and No. 3 Zach Hotz. The Barons' spring break is this week, and the pair are on a school-sponsored trip to Spain with about 30 other seniors.

Also out: CCC's Kara Kucin, a Marshall commitment and two-time state qualifier, didn't play high school tennis this season. East Lake's Lauren Eschenroeder, the Eagles' No. 2 early in the year, decided to focus on volleyball.

3 looking beyond Players with serious state title aspirations:

Garrett Betsirakis, So., Shore- crest: The Times' 2008 player of the year knocked out the No. 1 seed to advance to the final of the No. 1 singles bracket last season. For the second year in a row, he enters district undefeated.

Julia Jones, Fr., St. Petersburg Catholic: Ranked No. 3 in the USTA 14-and-under age group, Jones rarely lost a game, let alone a match.

Amy Lowther, Fr., Seminole: A dark-horse candidate, Lowther beat some of the county's top players to go undefeated during the regular season.

The tournaments

At stake

The first- and second-place teams in each district advance to region semifinals April 21 and 23. The No. 1 singles and doubles champions from each district whose teams don't reach state advance to the individual bracket of the state tournament in their respective classifications.

Class 4A, District 5

Starts: Tuesday, 8 a.m.

Where: McMullen Tennis Complex

Teams: Alonso, Countryside, Gaither, Mitchell, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Sickles

Outlook: The Snook siblings are favored for the individual titles, but St. Petersburg is the team to beat on both sides. PHU is the Green Devils' stiffest competition in the girls competition, and Countryside will challenge for runnerup. For the boys, PHU and Alonso are contenders.

Class 3A, District 7

Starts: Thursday, 8:15 a.m.

Where: McMullen Tennis Complex

Teams: Clearwater, Dunedin, East Lake, Osceola, Seminole, Tarpon Springs

Outlook: The individual final may be a toss-up, but Seminole is the overwhelming favorite to win its third straight boys title. The Warhawks are deeper than any team in the draw. East Lake is a good bet to advance as well. Same for the girls side, where the Eagles might be the slight favorite after beating Seminole in the regular season.

Class 3A, District 8

Starts: Monday, 9 a.m.

Where: St. Petersburg Country Club

Teams: Boca Ciega, Dixie Hollins, Gibbs, Lakewood, Largo, Northeast

Outlook: The Gibbs girls won their first district title a year ago and should repeat. Largo and Lakewood will battle for second place. The Spartans, behind top-seeded Robby Nichols, have a fourth straight region appearance and second straight boys district title in their sights. Largo's Peter Jackson leads a Packers side eager to return to the region event.

Class 2A, District 10

Starts: Monday, 8:30 a.m.

Where: Hillsborough Community College

Teams: Academy of the Holy Names, Jesuit, Lennard, Robinson, St. Petersburg Catholic, Spoto, Tampa Catholic

Outlook: The SPC girls haven't been tested all year. Don't expect that to change this week. Jesuit has been down the past two seasons but remains the favorite in the boys competition. Even without two of their top three, the Barons should qualify for the region tournament. SPC's Luke Burton will likely have to upset Jesuit's Chase Merlin to win the individual crown.

Class A, District 10

Starts: Tuesday, 10 a.m.

Where: Royal Racquet Club

Teams: Admiral Farragut, Calvary Christian, Canterbury, Clearwater Central Catholic, Indian Rocks Christian, Keswick Christian, Northside Christian, Shorecrest

Outlook: The Shorecrest boys finished undefeated and are a state title contender. CCC's Ricky Symanski has the Marauders primed for a region berth although Calvary Christian and Canterbury won't go away without a fight. Morgan Basil (Shorecrest) defeated Julianne Gruber (CCC) in the regular season and earned the No. 1 seed for the girls. A rematch is likely in the final. Yasmine Franco (IRC) could be a spoiler. The two region spots will come from either CCC, IRC, Northside Christian or Shorecrest.

Pinellas: District tennis previews 04/11/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 11, 2009 11:27pm]
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