NEW PORT RICHEY — At the start of Tuesday's Class 3A region boys semifinal against Celebration, undefeated River Ridge junior Jurgens van Zyl's right arm was in a sling.
By day's end, he wasn't the only Royal Knight with a reason to grimace.
With their No. 4 singles player nursing the rotator cuff he tore at last week's district tournament, the Knights (14-2) lost three singles matches and dropped both doubles points in a 4-3 loss to Celebration.
The Knights' defeat was one of two significant upsets in local boys region play Tuesday. In 2A action, Hernando sophomore No. 1 player Chris Nyholm dropped his first match of the season, but watched his teammates salvage a 5-2 triumph against Citrus.
At the District 5 tournament, van Zyl, who hasn't lost a singles match the past two seasons, sustained his injury while attempting an overhead smash during doubles play. Freshman Nick Hill replaced him at No. 4 on Tuesday and played valiantly before falling to Scott Britain 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3).
Siblings Matt and Sean Perry were River Ridge's lone winners, prevailing in straight sets at No. 3 and 5 singles, respectively. Their wins kept the Knights alive entering doubles play, where they lost both matches.
Losing van Zyl "hurt a lot because had we won (at No. 4), I think we would've been more competitive going into doubles because we had to win both," Knights coach Paul Scolaro said.
"We won the first set at No. 2 doubles, and when my No. 2 doubles team saw my No. 1 doubles team lose, it knocked the wind out of their sails."
Nyholm, who previously hadn't dropped a set all season, fell 3-6, 2-6 to Citrus junior Victor Espinoza in a matchup of district champions. Erik Lawson, Jesse Lane, Joel Brown and Jordan Williams all won singles matches for Hernando.
The Leopards host Friday's region final against Lecanto, a 5-2 winner over Wiregrass Ranch (14-2). The Bulls, 5-7 in their inaugural season a year ago, got wins from district champs James Mudge and Mitch Phelps at No. 3 and 5 singles, respectively.
Joey Knight can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3350.