CASSELBERRY — St. Petersburg Catholic's hopes of winning the Class A girls state title were tempered when No. 2 singles player Alyssa Bellini broke a bone in her foot at regions.
Wednesday, the Barons won their opening-round match in the top four singles positions and both doubles spots. Still, it's likely not enough to overcome American Heritage Delray Beach, which didn't lose a match in earning 12 points. St. Petersburg Catholic and Ransom Everglades are tied for second with seven points.
"Our goal was to improve on how we've finished the last two seasons," SPC coach Brett Hayman said. "We were fourth two years ago and third last year. We're in a fight for second, so I'm happy."
Only Molly Smith at No. 4 is alive for SPC. She beat P.K. Young's Zari Whittaker 6-3, 6-3 then crushed DanaGrace Buck of Vero Beach St. Edward's 6-1, 6-0 in the semifinals.
Top-seeded Julia Jones overpowered Academy of the Holy Names' Bianca Roberts 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals before falling to Heritage's Nadia Ravita 6-3, 6-1.
Jerica Coley upset No. 1-seeded Carolina Lozo of AHN 6-2, 6-1 in her opening match at No. 2 singles but lost 6-2, 6-4 in the next round. Danielle Nickerson was a 6-1, 6-0 opening-round winner over Christina Socias of AHN at No. 3 singles before losing in the semifinals 6-0, 6-4.
The Barons' doubles teams of Jones/Coley (No. 1) and Nickerson/Smith won their first-round match in straight sets and continue playing today.
Shorecrest's boys can't win after picking up two points but picked up a pair of thrilling three-set victories.
At No. 1 singles, Garrett Betsarakis spotted Maclay's Christopher Perrigan a 6-1, 5-2 lead before winning 10 straight games for a 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory. He then fell to top-seeded Andrew Butz of St. Edward's 6-3, 6-4. At No. 3 singles, Nick Litsky won 6-3, 6-7 (7-2) 6-3 over Michael Koppel of Episcopal. Litsky lost in the semifinals 6-1, 6-2.
In the individual competition at Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford, Clearwater Central Catholic's Ricky Symanski lost in the quarterfinals to second-seeded Zachary McCourt of Sagemont 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Canterbury brothers Miles and Evan Holvoet won their opener 6-1, 6-3 but lost in the quarters 6-2, 6-1 to McCourt and Antonio Pena.
Class 3A: Gladiator's 'fun' gets her to final
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — Akilah James has been a machine in the playoffs for Gibbs, rolling past the No. 1s of Chamberlain, King, Naples Barron Collier and Bradenton Lakewood Ranch right into today's state final.
Each match, she looks like she's having a little more fun.
After dispatching Lakewood Ranch's Katherine Pyne 6-4, 6-2, at Sanlando Park, James was downright giddy, high-fiving and jumping into the arms of her teammates and friends.
"This is fun," said James, Gibbs' only winner. "I'm just going out there right now with one purpose."
James overpowered Pyne and Barron Collier's Lindsay Raymond (6-4, 6-4) with her strong baseline play and a hard forehand. She meets Wiregrasss Ranch's Sarah Means in the No. 1 final today.
If James gets past Means, she meets the winner of the individual bracket, which comprises players who won No. 1 singles at districts but whose teams did not advance to state.
Or in other words, likely No. 1 nationally ranked Danielle Collins of Northeast, who created a buzz when she took just 32 minutes to win her only match of the day, 6-0, 6-0 over Melbourne Viera's Abby Lindsley. She will play in the individual semifinals today against Chamberlain's Nicole Mera, who won twice.
Dunedin's Michael Beiler lost 6-3, 6-2 in his individual singles match then teamed with Josh Hammond in a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Fort Myers.
Times staff writer John C. Cotey contributed to this report.