SPRING HILL — For the first time in 34 years, the Springstead boys tennis team will compete for a region tennis title and a trip to the state tournament.
The Eagles won four of five singles matches to clinch their matchup against Orlando Edgewater at Delta Woods Park in the Class 3A region semifinals Wednesday. The Eagles will face either Daytona Beach Mainland or Ocala Forestat 3 p.m. today.
"I had hopes for the team, but it's always tough to predict how a season is going to go at the start," Springstead coach Joe Nicolai said. "I don't like to focus on one win or making history. I'm just proud of the way these kids are playing right now."
Although Springstead No. 1 singles player Patrick Deslaurier lost 6-1, 6-0 to Peter Tong, the rest of the Eagles — Hank Deslaurier, Robby Hoover, Alex Hoover and Sam DeAngelis — won in straight sets.
Robby Hoover was the final piece of the puzzle, playing Edgewater's Chas Wilson at No. 3 singles. Hoover took the first set 7-6 after winning the tiebreaker 7-0. The second set was tied at 1 before Hoover pulled away 6-2.
"We never give up and always encourage each other," Hoover said. "It just feels great to make history."
Wiregrass Ranch sweeps
WESLEY CHAPEL — Sarasota was, by far, the toughest competition Wiregrass Ranch's boys team has faced this season. Yet the Bulls needed barely more than an hour to clinch a victory in their Class 3A region semifinal matchup.
Wiregrass Ranch won 4-0 and heads to Venice at 3 p.m. today for a region final.
No. 5 Bulls player Sebastian Castillo had a "scare" in that he nearly lost his first game this season. Castillo had won all 20 of his matches 6-0, 6-0.
"He was one point away from winning a game a couple times. I had to hit the ball hard," Castillo said.
Sarasota No. 1 Andre Johnson, a junior ranked in the state's top 20 for his age group, gave Agie Moreno a battle for one set before succumbing 6-3, 6-0. An increasingly frustrated Johnson talked to himself throughout the second set, a simple "he's so good" among his running commentary.
"I try to get into my opponent's head, and at the end of the first set I knew I had him," said Moreno, who played the minimum four regular-season matches, while competing in junior tournaments, to be eligible for the postseason.
Sarasota's Michael Adler won a set at No. 3, but that match was abandoned once the overall 4-0 lead was attained. Bulls' No. 2 Pedro Fernandez and No. 4 Alejandro Feliciano both won 6-0, 6-1.
The Wiregrass Ranch girls, who beat Largo 4-3 on Monday, also are headed to Venice for the region finals. Venice beat Land O'Lakes 5-0 on Wednesday.
Times correspondent Darek Sharp contributed to this report.