TAMPA — Though his team won two regular-season matches against Jesuit with ease, St. Petersburg Catholic coach Brett Hayman took nothing for granted at the Class 2A, District 10 tournament.
"They," Hayman said, "didn't have their entire team when we played them."
At districts, Jesuit did. But it didn't matter.
Behind strong play throughout the lineup, the Barons got past the determined Tigers, finishing three points ahead in a hard-fought battle Tuesday at Hillsborough Community College.
SPC, which went 9-4 in dual events during the regular season, had six head-to-head matches with Jesuit, and it held off the Tigers by taking three. Jesuit failed to win its district for the first time since 1992 but advances to the state playoffs as runnerup (new in Florida this season).
"It feels good to finally beat them," said SPC's Michael Kopelman, the team's No. 1 singles player. "Going in, we knew we had a good chance. But both times we played them, they were missing players so we were a little uncertain."
SPC's girls team was just as strong.
The Barons won three singles and a doubles final to total 16 points, three more than Tampa Catholic.
"We played well all across the board," Hayman said of the girls.
Kopelman, an undefeated senior who has scholarship offers from Florida Gulf Coast and Hofstra, and Tampa Catholic's Meghan Sullivan were the No. 1 singles champions, which qualifies both for the Class 2A state tournament.
In doubles, Kopelman and Quenten Gabay reached state by winning at No. 1. Ditto on the girls side for Sullivan and her sister, Kelly.
Team: 1. SPC 16, 2. Tampa Catholic 13, 3. Holy Names 11, 4. Robinson 4, 5. Spoto 3
Individuals: 1. Meghan Sullivan (TC) d. Melissa Narzissenfeld (AHN) 6-2, 6-3; 2. Kelly Sullivan (TC) vs. Jerica Coley (SPC) 6-2, 6-2; 3. Danielle Nickerson (SPC) d. Kim Renspie (AHN) 7-5, 6-2; 4. Molly Smith (SPC) d. Ashley Farrell (TC) 6-1, 6-0; 5. Melissa Smith (SPC) d. Christina Socias (AHN) 6-3, 6-4. Doubles: 1. M.Sullivan/K.Sullivan (TC) d. Coley/Alyssa Bellini (SPC) 6-0, 6-4; 2. M. Smith/Nickerson (SPC) d. Bianca Roberts/Annie Hubbell (AHN) 6-2, 6-1
Team: 1. SPC 18, 2. Jesuit 15, 3. Tampa Catholic 5, T4. Robinson 2, T4. Spoto 2
Individuals: 1. Michael Kopelman (SPC) d. Josh Wynne (Je) 6-1, 6-3; 2. Macale Smith (Je) d. A.J. Schuyler (SPC) 6-2, 6-0; 3. Chase Merlin (Je) d. Quenten Gabay (SPC) 6-0, 6-0; 4. Zach Hotz (SPC) d. J.M. Snyder (Je) 6-2, 6-0; 5. Luke Burton (SPC) d. Bryan Brislin (TC) 6-2, 7-5. Doubles: 1. Gabay/Kopelman (SPC) d. Wynne/Snyder (Je) 6-3, 6-1; 2. Smith/Merlin (Je) d. Hotz/Schuyler (SP) 6-1, 6-1