EAST LAKE — In last week's district tournament, East Lake won both doubles matches in tiebreakers to eke out the championship against Land O'Lakes. In Thursday's Class 4A region final rematch, the Eagles didn't need to play doubles.
East Lake won four of five singles matches to defeat the Gators 4-1. The Eagles earned a berth in next week's Class 4A state final in Orlando.
Benny Glezer got things started for East Lake with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Land O'Lakes' Albert Xing at No. 1 singles. Ryan Grywczynski finished shortly afterward with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Jeffrey Liu at No. 5 singles to put the Eagles up 2-0.
At No. 3 singles, Max Keenan pulled out a 6-4, 5-7, 10-7 tiebreaker win over Will Hasell to give the Gators what turned out to be their only point. The only two matches left were at Nos. 2 and 4 singles.
Brayton Vanhorenbeck fought back to defeat Land O'Lakes' Caelen Aarcola 7-6, 6-2 to put the Eagles within a point of clinching the regional.
"That's probably the best I've ever played," Vanhorenbeck said. "I fell behind 1-4 and it took a while to get going. But once I got going I started to play well."
That left only one match, No. 4 singles. With teammates cheering them on, East Lakes' Carter Reed and Land O'Lakes' Kenta Xu were forced into a tiebreaker third set. They traded points until it was 5-5. Then Reed rattled off three straight points and hung on to win the tiebreaker 10-7 and clinch the match.
"I didn't feel any pressure," Reed said. "I was just focused on the match and trying to return every shot. (Xu) is a good player. We went to a tiebreaker in the districts so I expected that again this time."
The Gators also lost to East Lake in last year's region final. Keenan, a senior who was on the team last year, said there is no shame in losing to East Lake.
"I love playing against those guys," Keenan said. "Great group of people. There is no team I'd rather lose to than them."