CASSELBERRY — Canterbury's Evan Holvoet wasn't sure he could make it to the Class A individual state tournament. In the district final, he faced Shorecrest's Peter Litsky, whom he had never beaten.
Holvoet broke through and carried the momentum into this week's state tournament. The unseeded senior had to win four matches to earn the first-place medal. In the final Thursday at Red Bug Lake Park, he defeated Miami Country Day's Shaun Berman 7-5, 6-1.
Holvoet said he played both of Thursday's matches with a sore back, which will prevent him from playing in today's overall championship.
"I tried to play through it as best I could," Holvoet said. "I motivated myself as much as possible, and I guess it worked."
Thanks to powerful serves and ground strokes, Holvoet overcame a slow start to get past Berman, who was playing with a sore groin. The match's final point was a long rally that Holvoet ended with a soft drop shot.
"I'm usually very aggressive, and I get very excited on the court," said Holvoet, who punctuated some shots with a loud "c'mon!"
"I have to motivate myself somehow or else I'll get angry and throw my racket or something. I try to stay positive."
Holvoet, who will play at Kennesaw State in the fall, said he's most proud of having his name in Canterbury's gym as a state champion.
"I really wanted to medal," Holvoet said. "I'd never done it before, and this was my last chance."
Largo's Alexis Franco didn't fare as well.
The top seed was playing for an individual state championship in the 3A tournament at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs but lost to second-seeded Nikki Kallenberg of Naples 6-2, 6-4.
Franco and Laurel Wanger — the No. 1 seeds — are still alive. They defeated Michelle Doan and Priyanka Shah of Orlando Lake Nona 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals then toppled Pensacola Washington's Rebecca Hedrick and Geetha Velusamy 6-2, 6-3. The final is this morning against Naples.
Meanwhile, Wiregrass Ranch's boys won the school's first state title. It and Naples Baron Collier shared the 3A title with 15 points. Baron Collier has won six straight titles.